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BJP vis-a-vis Hindu 

Koenraad Elst 

Disclaimer: Ebook in PDF format created solely for educational purposes. 


New Delhi 

© Author 

Published by Voice of India, 

2/18 Ansari Road, New Delhi - 110002 

Table of Contents 

Introduction by Koenraad Elst 

1 . Anything but a Hindu Party 

2. Equal Respect for all Religions 

3. What is wrong with Hindu 

4. The BJP Flag 

5. How the Rama Card was Thrown Away 

6. Sangh Parivar, The Last Gandhians 

7. Gandhian Non-Violence 

8. The Sangh’s Anti-Intellectualism 

9. The Sangh as Dinasaur 

10. Anti-Intellectualism in Action 
1 1 . 1 am a Hindu Communalist 

12. Vulgar Nationalism 

13. Hindu and Other Peoples’ Nationalism 

14. The Sangh’s Muslims 

15. Party of Shopkeepers 

16. Things to do for the BJP 

17. Christ in India 

18. Hindus Wielding The Sword of Islam 

19. How Not to Deal with Islam 

20. How to Deal with Islam 

21. Know the Truth, and the Truth Shall Make You Free 

22. Hindu Objections 

23. Conclusion 

Appendix I: A Reply to Kanchan Gupta 


Many people inside or close to the BJP, and inside or close to the broader Sangh Parivar, have 
become dissatisfied with what they perceive as the increasing distance between the BJP's actual 
policies and the Hindu expectations among the public on which the party capitalizes. To some 
extent, the problem lies with the BJP itself, distinguishing it from other Hindutva organizations, 
who then tend to blame the increasing non-Sangh element inside the BJP for this "degeneration", 
especially the opportunists who jumped onto the promising BJP bandwagon after the 1989 and 
1991 electoral breakthroughs. To a large extent, however, the BJP problem is the RSS problem. In 
the BJP, the RSS approach is put to the test of day-to-day political practice, in confrontation with 
the enemies of Hindutva, without the benefit of the secretiveness which characterizes the 
functioning of other Sangh-affiliated organizations. Except for the recent defection and cormption 
scandals, the major failures of the BJP can be traced to RSS policies and RSS ideological 

At any rate, the problem is serious enough, even in the eyes of many BJP or RSS members, to 
warrant a frank debate. It is to this debate that the present paper wants to contribute. The prime 
focus of our attention will be the BJP's performance, but with constant reference to the RSS 
background. Most examples will be drawn from the one aspect of Hindutva politics which is by far 
the most conspicuous and the most common target of secularist criticism: the relation with Islam. 
Historically, the RSS was created in a context of Hindu-Muslim tension, and till today, its activists 
have frequently been in conflict with the Muslim community politically or even physically. An 
organization which has had to deal with India's Islam problem for more than 70 years may be 
expected to have developed a clear analysis of this problem, and an effective strategy to counter it. 

Many Sangh Parivar activists are not going to like this paper. They have a childlike affection for the 
organization which has given them togetherness and solidarity, a feeling of purpose and of home. 
Often self-effacing idealists, they don't mind criticism of their own person, and they can listen to 
insults to India and Hinduism without being moved, but they are very touchy when it comes to 
criticism of the Sangh. I apologize to them for any hurt caused by this text, but I am convinced of 
its urgent necessity. The Sangh is benumbed by the decades-long crossfire of criticism by its 
enemies, but is not used to listen to criticism from friendly quarters. 

On the other hand, a lot of Sangh people are going to agree with my remarks. It is pardy because of 
complaints from Sangh activists themselves that I have resolved to formulate this critique. Littie 
does the Sangh leadership realize that numerous idealistic volunteers have joined one of the many 
Sangh-affiliated organizations because they want to do something for Hinduism, not because they 
care about the specific Sangh outlook. The Sangh Parivar just happens to be around, just happens 
to be the largest organization reputed to be working for Hinduism, so Hindu-minded people join 
one of its fronts rather than go through the wasteful trouble of setting up their own rivalling shop; 
but that doesn't mean they are enthusiastic about certain Sangh fads which will come up for scrutiny 
in this paper. 

The present text is a much-enlarged version of a two-part guest column published in the Observer 
of Business and Politics (Delhi) of 6 and 7 December 1996, and contributed at the suggestion of 
Mr. R.K. Mishra and Mr. Balbir Poonj. I thank them for their interest and for the courage of 
publishing that column, but of course they bear no responsibility whatsoever for its contents. 
Among all the Sangh people whom I should thank for giving me access to information, I want to 
mention Mr. K.R. Malkani and Mr. Devendra Swarup in particular. I hope they can appreciate the 
spirit in which I offer the comments which follow. 

Koenraad Elst 
Leuven, 17 January 1997 

1. Anything but a ’’Hindu” party 

The strange thing about the BJP is that its voters consider it a Hindu party, its enemies denounce it 
as a Hindu party, but the party will call itself anything except a Hindu party. 

Unlike most critics of the BJP, who tend to make their point by quoting sources openly hostile to 
the party, we should prove our case by going to its own formulations of its ideology. To summarize 
the ideological positions of the BJP and its former avatar, the BJS (Bharatiya Jana Sangh), from 
authentic sources, we will reproduce the brief professions of ideological commitment given in the 
Constitutions of the BJS (1973) and of the BJP (1992). The summary given in the BJS Constitution 
under the heading "Aims and Objectives in Brief', a programme to which all BJS party members 
pledged their loyalty, are as follows (we give it in its entirety, but change the order so as to group the 
different points under headings of our own making): 

1) Cultural nationalism: "Political, social and economic reconstruction of the country on the basis of 
Bharatiya Sanskriti [= culture] and Maryada [= "limit", ethics]. Protection and promotion of the 
cow. Use of Hindi and other Pradeshic [= provincial] languages as official languages in their 
regions. Changes in the judicial system to suit the genius of India and fit in with present-day 

2) Political nationalism: "The establishment of a unitary government and decentralisation of political 
and economic power. Establishment of Akhand Bharat [= undivided India including the Pakistani 
and Bangladeshi territories]. Complete integration of Kashmir. Liberation of territory occupied by 
China and Pakistan. A foreign policy based upon enlightened self-interests of the country. Modern- 
most military armaments." 

3) Social concerns: "Protection of the fundamental rights of the individual and the promotion of 
interests of the Society. Guarantee of the fundamental right to work and livelihood. Upholding 
establishment and protection of the tiller's right to ownership of land. Ceiling on agricultural land 
and redistribution of land. Eradication of untouchability. Elimination of corruption. Free education 
up to middle class. Facilities for medical care and social security." 

4) Economic programme: "Encouragement to small mechanised and rural industries. 

Nationalisation of basic industries. Curbing monopolistic tendencies in the economic sphere. 
Determination of minimum and maximum expendable income. Worker's participation in the profit 
and management of the industries. Stabilisation of prices. [1] 

Under headings 1 and 2 we certainly find a nationalist programme, considerably more radical than 
anything stated by the later BJP. Under headings 3 and 4, we do not find the "rightist" policies 
which the leftists always attribute to the Hindutva forces, but a typical social-democratic 
programme. But either way, what we do not find, is an explicidy Hindu orientation underlying this 

programme. One may argue that in its practical application, Hindu social philosophy boils down to 
an "integral humanism" of which this programme is the logical explicitation; but even then, there 
should be no reason to be so modest (not to say secretive) about the Hindu source of this 

The BJP defines its ideology as follows: 

"Article II: Objective. The party is pledged to build up India as a strong and prosperous nation, 
which is modern, progressive and enlightened in oudook and which proudly draws inspiration from 
India's ancient culture and values and thus is able to emerge as great world power playing an 
effective role in the comity of Nations for the establishment of world peace and a just international 

"The party aims at establishing a democratic state which guarantees to all citizens irrespective of 
caste, creed or sex, political, social and economic justice, equality of opportunity and liberty of faith 
and expression. 

"The party shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and 
to the principles of socialism, secularism and democracy and would uphold the sovereignty, unity 
and integrity of India. 

"Article III: Basic Philosophy. Integral Humanism shall be the basic philosophy of the Party. 

"Article IV: Commitments. The Party shall be committed to nationalism and national integration, 
democracy, Gandhian Socialism, Positive Secularism, that is 'Sarva Dharma Samabhav', and value- 
based politics. The party stands for decentralisation of economic and political power." [2] 

Upon joining the party, every BJP member makes the following pledge: 

"I believe in Integral Humanism which is the basic philosophy of Bharatiya Janata Party. 

"I am committed to Nationalism and National Integration, Democracy, Gandhian Socialism, 
Positive Secularism (Sarva Dharma Samabhava) and value -based politics. 

"I subscribe to the concept of a Secular State and Nation not based on religion. 

"I firmly believe that this task can be achieved by peaceful means alone. 

"I do not observe or recognize untouchability in any shape or form. 

"I am not a member of any other political party. 

"I undertake to abide by the Constitution, Rules and Discipline of the Party." [3] 

I have taken the trouble of quoting the BJP's explicit statement of its political objectives and 
methods in full, because these official self-declarations and the received wisdom about the BJP are 
miles apart. These statements can be used as counter-evidence by those who are concerned about 
the slanderous descriptions of the BJP as "Hindu fundamentalists" standing for "preservation of 
caste oppression", for a "theocratic state", for "communal violence", if not for "fascism". However, 
while comforting for those who try to prove that the BJP is a nice secularist party, the cited official 
statements of the BJP party-line are somewhat worrying from a Hindu viewpoint. Indeed, the word 
"Hindu" does not figure in them at any point. 

Moreover, like in the Indian Constitution, there is nothing typically Hindu about these BJS/BJP 
programmes. The BJS text still contained some Sanskrit words which could have been replaced with 
English terms without loss of meaning, but the operative term is Bharatiya, "Indian"; the BJP can 
do without the Sanskrit altogether (except for one problematic expression, cfr. infra). These 
manifestoes are entirely in the tradition of Western liberal-democratic nationalism, and most of the 
expressions used can be found in texts of the American and French Revolutions or the speeches of 
19th-century liberal nationalists like Lajos Kossuth or Giuseppe Mazzini. Not that this is 
objectionable in itself, but from a party claiming "Bharatiya culture" as its inspiration, this wholesale 
borrowing from the West is not very promising. 

The term integral humanism, the BJP's official ideology, was introduced in Sangh ideology by 
Deendayal Upadhyaya, as a social doctrine based on Hindu instead of Western thought. It was 
given a universalist rather than a "national" name, which in principle I consider a good thing; 
"Western" ideologies like liberalism and socialism have not been labelled after their country of 
origin either. At the same time, a nagging suspicion remains that the term was chosen and 
promoted as yet another attempt to acquire a "secular" identity. 

[1] Reproduced in Bharatiya Jana Sangh Party Documents 1951-1972, vol.l, p.222. 

[2] Constitution and Rules (as amended by the National Council at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on 2nd 
May 1992) of the Bharatiya Janata Party, p.3-4. "Sarva-Dharma-Samabhava" is a Gandhian slogan 
meaning "equal respect for all religions". 

[3] Constitution and Rules, p.19. 

2. ’’Equal respect for all religions” 

The only explicitly Indian contribution in the cited BJS/BJP self-declarations is of doubtful value: 
"positive secularism" defined as "sarva-dharma-samabhava", "equal respect for all religions". We let 
the difference with the original European concept of secularism (equal indifference towards all 
religions, equal independence from all religions) pass, and focus on the problematic meaning of the 
slogan defining this "positive secularism". Two meanings are attested: the political meaning 
apparendy given to it in the cited BJP texts, viz. that the state must be equidistant from Hinduism, 
Islam, Christianity and any other religion; and the religious meaning given to it by Mahatma Gandhi 
and his followers, viz. that a religious person should have equal respect for Hinduism, Islam etc., 
because all these religions are equally good and satisfying. 

The Gandhians and the travelling neo-Hindu sadhus have spread the notion that Hinduism itself 
holds all religions in equal esteem, even that it considers all religions to be equally tme. This claim is 
repeated with enthusiasm in anti-Hindutva polemic by secularists who try to delegitimize Hindu 
self-defence in the name of some suicidal masochism advertised as "genuine Hinduism". However, 
the truth is that this Gandhian slogan is a typical product of the political tangles of the colonial age 
and of syncretistic Theosophy-influenced neo-Hinduism; it is not an ancient Hindu dictum 
capturing the true spirit of Hinduism. Possibly Gandhi meant the slogan to be a trick to domesticate 
Christianity and Islam into the age-old system of Hindu pluralism: if Hindus treat Islam and 
Christianity as "equal" to their own cherished traditions, Muslims and Christians will reciprocate 
this rhetoric and give up their open intention to replace Hinduism with their own beliefs. The 
results of Gandhi's policies, viz. Partition and an intensification of Christian missionary subversion, 
already indicates how wrong-headed the well-intended slogan really is. 

Of course, Hindu tradition has always been wholeheartedly pluralistic. It cherishes a principle of 
modesty in judgment, aware of the limitations of each human viewpoint. It respects the urge to seek 
the truth which alights in every soul. It recognizes its own attitude when it sees a reverence for the 
sacred at work in other societies. It has compassion for the limitations of the human intellect, which 
in most people never outgrows the conditioning of education and culture (how many people who 
deride a given doctrine or practice would have arrived at the same judgment if they had been born 
in a community upholding this doctrine or practice?). For this reason, Hinduism practises tolerance 
vis-a-vis all religious doctrines and practices, even obviously wrong ones, as long as they don't 
interfere with those of others. History shows that Hinduism practises equal tolerance towards all 
sects of Hindu provenance, and towards Zoroastrianism, Judaism and pre-colonial Syrian- 
Christianity which, at least in India, have always abided by the rules of Hindu pluralism: live and let 
live. This tolerance becomes questionable and indicative of a lack of viveka/ discrimination when 
one is dealing with religions which refuse to abide by the mles. 

Hinduism applauds diversity and consequently accepts that people of different temperaments, 
circumstances and levels of understanding develop different viewpoints and different forms to 
express even the same viewpoint. In that sense, it has always paid equal respect to shramanas and 

brahmanas, to jnana and bhakti, etc. It showed samabhava to all traditions which counted as 
dharma. This respect was never due to adharma practices and doctrines such as Christianity and 
Islam, the religions for whose benefit the slogan is used mostly. 

The fundamental mistake of Indian secularism is that Hinduism is put in the same category as Islam 
and Christianity. The definition of "religion" which is implied when we call Islam and Christianity 
religions, may well not apply to Hinduism, and vice versa. Islam and Christianity are defined, by 
believers as well as by informed outsiders, as belief systems; Hinduism is not so defined (except by 
incompetent outsiders and some of their neo-Hindu imitators who try to cast Hinduism into the 
mould of Christianity). Islam's and Christianity's intrinsic irrationality and hostility to independent 
critical thought warranted secularism as a kind of containment policy. By contrast, Hinduism 
recognizes freedom of thought and does not need to be contained by secularism. The contents of 
this last sentence, meaning the radical difference in kind of Hinduism and its enemies, can be found 
in many Hindutva publications (e.g., lamely, "Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life", or 
apologetically, "Hindus cannot be fundamentalists"), and yet the same Hindutva spokesmen parrot 
a Gandhian slogan which treats both Hinduism and its enemies as equal members of the set of 
"religions" or "dharmas". 

Historically, Hindus have quickly recognized Islam and missionary Christianity as mleccha, barbaric 
predatory religions, not as instances of dharma to which any (not to speak of "equal") respect is 
due. Until Swami Dayananda Saraswati, they didn't even consider these religions as worthy of a 
detailed critique. Once this critique was finally made, it was quickly proven that Christianity and 
Islam are not "equally true" with Hinduism, whether with the help of modern rationalist scholarship 
or from the viewpoint of Hindu spirituality (cfr. infra). 

Far from paying equal respect to just any movement whether dharmic or not, Hinduism does not 
even require equal respect for each of its genuine dharmas. Toleration does not imply equal respect 
for the insights and values taught by the sects concerned; it is an application of the true ahimsa 
spirit, viz. accepting the right of existing entities including ethnic identities and religious traditions 
to continue their existence. But this doesn't mean that Hinduism considers all doctrines and 
practices as of equal value. Hinduism as a whole gives a place in the sun to all, but it does not want 
any individual to set aside his criticisms of certain viewpoints or his personal preferences for some 
and aversion for other religious practices. It never was anti-logical nor anti-realistic; therefore, it 
never required people to muzzle both their rational faculty and their temperamental inclinations. 
These criticisms and preferences are perfecdy normal, and there is no need to suppress them with 
an enforced "equal respect". Even within the Hindu fold, there is no question of equality between 
different traditions and viewpoints. 

One Hindu philosopher may disagree with another, i.e. consider his own view right and the other's 
wrong; indeed, debates between different schools of Hindu thought have mostly taken the logically 
necessary form of demonstrating the truth of one and the consequent untruth of the opposing 
viewpoint. Calling one view true and another untrue is not what I would call equal respect, even 
though there may be equal respect for the human beings defending the respective views. Like a 
good moderator in a public debate, Hinduism allows both sides their say, but it is not required to 

believe that both are equally right. Similarly, though Hindu society has both a class of married 
priests and a class of celibate renunciates, there have always been people upholding the one 
institution and arguing against the other, e.g. that full-time monkhood is a parasitic way of life, or 
conversely, that the great spiritual achievement happens to require full-time dedication and thereby 
excludes social and family duties. Hindu tradition as such refuses to be pinned down to one side of 
the argument, but every Hindu is entided to choose sides and prefer one dharma over another. 

Apart from this subjective inequality of dharmas which Hinduism allows its adherents, there are 
universal judgments on which the whole society has developed a broad consensus, and which label 
one practice as right and another as wrong, or at least as inferior. Thus, a contemporary ritualist 
who sacrifices flowers and fruits condemns the animal sacrifice practised by his forebears, and still 
by some shaktic sects, as primitive and unnecessarily cruel. There was a time when Yedic seers 
practised animal sacrifice, and though Hindus still hold the Yedic seers in great esteem, the Hindu 
mainstream has outgrown this bloody practice: there is no equal respect for the old, primitive 
practice and for the new, more enlightened practice (as is illustrated by the clumsy attempts to 
prove that the descriptions of Yedic seers sacrificing goats or eating beef, or of the Buddha eating 
pork, are mere metaphors). The Vedic seers were Hindus alright, the shaktic priests and sorcerers 
are Hindus alright, their rituals are part of Sanatana Dharma alright, yet their slaughterhouse dharma 
is not considered worthy of equal respect with more refined innovations in ritual. 

Similarly, even most meat-eating Hindus agree that vegetarianism is superior, deserving of greater 
respect. Another pan-Hindu consensus pertinent to the present discussion is the rejection of the 
narrow-minded exclusivist sects which refuse to abide by the rules of pluralism. Before the Hindu 
mind got confused with sarva-dharma-samabhava, this meant a spontaneous abhorrence of the 
destructive fanaticism of Christianity and Islam. 

Within broad limits, the Hindu tradition as a whole does not pronounce on the existing differences, 
leaving it to the Hindu people to make a choice between its own variety of options. Given each 
individual man's limitations, it is wise not to identify with one man's beliefs and preferences (as 
Islam does) and give room to different and even opposing positions. All the same, Sanatana 
Dharma leaves its adherents entirely free to prefer one option over another, and even to criticize 
and reject certain options. So, even within the spectrum of Hindu schools and sects, there is no 
question of sarva-dharma-samabhava, merely of peaceful co-existence. The few cases of violent 
rioting between Shaiva and Vaishnava monks (gleefully played up and magnified in malafide pieces 
on "the myth of Hindu tolerance") may be considered as trespasses against the spirit of Hinduism, 
but debates and denunciations of certain views and practices remain entirely within the rules of 
Hindu pluralism. 

Moreover, the same rational objection against sarva-dharma-samabhava which applies to intra- 
Hindu debates, applies to the relation between Islam or Christianity and Hinduism, or even to that 
between Islam and Christianity. According to Christianity, Jesus was the divine Saviour and 
Mohammed was nobody; according to Islam, Jesus was just a human prophet and Mohammed was 
the final prophet. These doctrines are mutually exclusive and cannot both be right. They can be 
equally wrong (actually, they are) and hence deserving of equal scepticism, but it is impossible for 

both to be right and deserving of equal respect. 

The slogan sarva-dharma-samabhava (not to mention the plain buffoonery of the "equal tmth of all 
religions" propagated by Bhagwan Das and the latter-day Ramakrishna Mission) is a cheap but all 
too transparent way of solving doctrinal contradictions, viz. by dogmatically decreeing that they are 
non-existent or at least] It is incredibly pretentious, firstly by falsely implying that one 
knows all religions (how can you pronounce on things which you don't know?), and secondly by 
overruling the laws of logic, viz. by positing the equivalence of mutually contradictory doctrines. In 
practice, it also implies a refusal to hear the representatives of the religions concerned, esp. when 
they explain why rival doctrines (including the whole spectrum of Hinduism) are unacceptable to 
them. Finally, while the slogan is rather harmless when applied to rival schools of Hinduism, it 
becomes very dangerous when (as mosdy) it is applied to viper religions with an explicit programme 
of annihilating Hinduism. Hindu activists should think again about this slogan, then drop it. 

Instead, however, they have decided to make things worse: the RSS-affiliated trade-union, Bharatiya 
Mazdoor Sangh, has taken the initiative of founding a Sarva Panth Samadar Manch (Equal Respect 
for All Sects Front), on 16 April 1994. The function where this new platform was created, was 
presided over by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, who counts as the Sangh's model Muslim (cfr. infra). 
The problem is not that contact is made with Muslims. Muslims are as good human beings as 
Hindus on average, and every effort should be made to break through the intrinsic separatism of 
Islam, which teaches its followers that there are two separate mankinds: the Muslims to whom both 
bliss in heaven and rulership on earth have been promised, and the unbelievers, doomed to 
subservience in this world and eternal hellfire in the next. Indeed, one of the wellsprings of the RSS 
desire to reach out to the Muslims was the experience of cordial co-operation with Jamaat-e-Islami 
activists during the Emergency, as BMS founder-president Dattopant Thengadi told me. Soon after 
coming out of jail in 1977, K. R. Malkani told Sita Ram Goel that he had an opportunity to learn 
true Islam from the Jamaat-i-Islami co-prisoners. When Goel asked him as to how he could judge 
the statements of these spokesmen for Islam when he himself had not studied the subject, Malkani 
dismissed the doubt raised with a disdainful smile. 

The problem is that these outreach operations invariably imply flattery of Islam. The day a unit of 
any Sangh Parivar organization includes even a single Muslim, its capacity to talk freely about Islam 
disappears. Instead of freeing the Muslims from their medieval doctrinal conditioning called Islam, 
this approach only serves to confirm them in their thralldom to Mohammed and his belief system. 
Bringing the alienated Muslims into the national mainstream without loosening their ties to 
Mohammed was Mahatma Gandhi's full-time occupation, yet he failed dismally. There is no sign at 
all that the RSS has a better and more clever approach which could spare it the same humiliating 
defeat at the hands of unregenerate Islamic separatism. 

A must reading about this is Harsh Narain: Myth of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions, 
Voice of India 1991. 

3. What is Wrong with "Hindu"? 

To an extent, the avoidance of the term "Hindu" has characterized many earlier avatars of Hindu 
nationalism. Sri Aurobindo tided his newspaper "Arya", and declared that India would rise with 
"Sanatana Dharma", a more profound term than the colloquial "Hinduism". The Arya Samaj 
preferred the term "Vedic", or the Vedic term "Arya" (denoting adherence to Vedic civilizational 
standards), to the originally purely geographical Persian term "Hindu". Moreover, "Hindu" was a 
catch-all term which included traditions considered deviant or non-Vedic by the Arya Samaj (esp. 
Puranic, Tantric); in the 1881 census, the Arya Samaj even advised its members to register as non- 
Hindus. This policy was reversed for the 1901 census, but in the 1980s, some Arya Samaj factions 
again made attempts to be recognized as a non-Hindu minority. By then, the term "Hindu" had not 
only become a distinctly dirty word, but also carried constitutional disadvantages with it (cfr. infra). 
In the same period, and for the same conformist and opportunist reasons, the Ramakrishna Mission 
unsuccessfully tried to get registered as a new non-Hindu religion called Ramakrishnaism. 

Even those who espouse doctrines and practices which are described in handbooks on "Hinduism", 
avoid the term "Hindu". In recent years, yoga teachers whether Indian or Western have tended to 
avoid mentioning the purely "Hindu" character of what they offer as the universal "science of yoga" 
(it is Christian fundamentalists who warn people of the Satanic Hindu character of these seemingly 
innocuous breathing and mental exercises). The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi calls his sadhana "science 
of creative intelligence", the political party which his followers in the West founded is called 
"Natural Law Party", and its viewpoints are typically prefixed with "Vedic": Vedic economics, Vedic 
health programme, etc. One of the reasons certainly is that outside India, the term "Hindu" is exotic 
and therefore connotes irrelevance to local situations. Another, more ominous one is that ever since 
the arrival of Hare Krishna singers in our streets, "Hindu" at best connotes mildly laughable 
eccentricity if not charlatanism. [1] For people who get their news and views through Christian 
missionary information channels, "Hindu" connotes savage superstition, otherworldliness, 
indolence, oppression and cruelty. But these reasons cannot count as valid excuses for activists with 
pro-Hindu convictions working within Hindu society. 

The most decent reason for avoiding the term "Hindu" might be that the corpus of Hindu literature 
itself does not mention it anywhere. It is, after all, a Persian term brought to India by the Muslim 
invaders. Moreover, it has a negative definition: any Indian who does not subscribe to a prophetic- 
monotheist creed. It is merely the "Other" of the Muslim invaders in India. But then, it had the 
advantage of uniting all Indians of different traditions and levels of culture in a single category 
clearly demarcated from the predator religions Christianity and Islam. This gave the term also a 
positive content, viz. their common civilizational virtues which set them apart from Christianity and 
Islam: their pluralism, their freedom of thought, their reliance on genuine experience rather than 
dogmatic belief. "Hindu" has therefore become a meaningful, more than merely geographical term. 
Though in certain contexts a puristic preference for more ancient and native terms may be 
legitimate, the term "Hindu" should be good enough for household use in the present era. 
Therefore, when Hindu freedom fighters created a common platform to counter the anti-national 

designs of the Muslim League, they did not hesitate to call it Hindu Mahasabha (HMS). The first 
session of the All Indian Hindu Mahasabha was held at Haridwar in 1915 and was attended, among 
others, by Gandhi who had not yet taken command of the Indian National Congress or become 
known as Mahatma. This, then, is the main exception to the rule that modern Hindu ideologues and 
organizations shun the name "Hindu". Later on HMS ideologue Y.D. Savarkar gave currency to the 
neologism "Hindutva" (a somewhat uneasy combination of a Persian loan-word with a high-brow 
Sanskritic suffix) through his so-titled book in 1923. He too tried to give a positive meaning to the 
term "Hindu", and sought it in people's degree of rootedness in the Indian territory: a Hindu is one 
for whom India is both "fatherland" and "holyland". 

But barely two years later, Dr. Hedgewar, though acknowledging Savarkar's influence, called his 
newly created organization "Rashtriya" (national, not "Hindu") Swayamsevak Sangh. By that time, 
Gandhi had made the word Hindu to mean something less than ‘national’, and the nation had 
become something more than Hindu.. The revolutionary movement in Bengal with which 
Hedgewar had come in contact was also turning away from its Hindu inspiration and fighting shy of 
the word ‘Hindu’ in order to lull Muslim suspicions. The name Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh has 
recently been adopted by the Non-Resident Indian branches of the RSS (in whose case "national" 
would mean "Trinidadian", "Canadian" etc.), but for the rest, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP, 
founded in 1 964) is the only explicidy "Hindu" RSS affiliate, all others being "Rashtriya" or 
"Bharatiya". These terms, in contrast to "Arya" or "Vedic" or "Sanatana Dharma" (which are not 
used in the quoted BJS and BJP programmes either), are not synonyms of "Hinduism", but purely 
geographical terms. 

The explanation given by RSS men is that in Hedgewar's view, the nation of India was essentially 
Hindu, and that the self-designation "Hindu" would merely corroborate the prevalent British (and 
later, Nehruvian) demotion of the Hindus as merely one "community" among others, rather than as 
the nation of India. [2] The version of the RSS's critics in the Hindu Mahasabha was and is that the 
RSS was just not brave enough to affirm its natural Hindu identity against the anti-Hindu dictates of 
the opinion-making establishment. It should be admitted that the tendency to identify "Hindu" with 
"national" was already present in Savarkar's own definition, but the component "India as holyland" 
does at least discriminate between traditions originating in India and the predatory religions 
Christianity and Islam. 

Among the Sangh Parivar's components, the BJP is the most emphatic in avoiding any association 
with Hinduism. While other organizations somehow affi li ated with the RSS may sometimes 
describe their political ideal as "Hindu Rashtra", the BJP studiously avoids such terms and prefers to 
swear by "genuine secularism". When A.B. Vajpayee is asked about the notion of "Hindu Rashtra", 
he declares he prefers "Bharatiya Rashtra", which, if words still have any meaning, can only denote 
the already-existing "Indian state", not an ideal requiring the efforts of a "Bharatiya" political party. 
American NRIs told me that when Vajpayee was invited to preside over the opening of a new 
Hindu temple in the USA, he said that they should have called it a "Bharatiya temple" instead. 

L.K. Advani has correctly pointed out that "the term Hindu Rashtra was never used during the Jana 
Sangh days, neither had it ever been mentioned in any manifesto of the BJP". At the same time, he 

reiterated the RSS theory that any Indian who "identifies with India" is thereby a Hindu: a Muslim 
who satisfies this condition (what Gandhians called a "nationalist Muslim") should call himself a 
"Mohammedi Hindu", a Christian should likewise be described as a "Christi Hindu". In Advani's 
view, "those residing in the country are Hindus even if many of them believe in different 
religions. (...) those following Islam are Mohammedi Hindus'. Likewise, Christians living in the 
country are 'Christian Hindus', while Sikhs are termed 'Sikh Hindus'. The respective identities are 
not undermined by such a formulation. Similarly, someone is a 'Sanatani Hindu', while the other is 
an 'Arya Samaji Hindu'. It would be better if such a formulation comes to be accepted. As part of 
the same concept, I consider this country to be a Hindu 'rashtra'. There is no need to convert it into 
a Hindu 'rashtra'; this needs to be understood. But I certainly do not believe in forcing people to 
believe in this." [3] 

In theory, and at first sight, this construction could be intellectually defensible if we start from the 
Hindu doctrine of the ishta devata, the "chosen deity": every Hindu has a right to worship the deity 
or divine incarnation or guru whom he chooses, and this may include exotic characters like A lla h or 
Jesus Christ. In practice, however, anyone can feel that something isn't right with this semantic 
manipulation: Muslims and Christians abhor and mock the idea of being defined as sects within 
Hinduism, and apart from a handful of multiculturalist Christians who call themselves "both Hindu 
and Christian", this co-optation of Muslims and Christians into the Hindu fold has no takers. It is 
actually resented, rejected and ridiculed. After all, taken to its logical extreme, it would imply that 
the state of Pakistan, founded by and for Indian Muslims, i.e. "Mohammedi Hindus", is also a 
Hindu Rashtra. 

More than the nationalist definition of Hindu-ness developed by Savarkar (who admitted that 
including Muslim in his definition of "Hindu" would stretch it too far), the clumsy notion of 
"Mohammedi Hindus" brandished by the RSS-BJP is an element of an attempt to delink the term 
Hinduism from its natural religious contents. [4] This broad concept of Hinduism implies the 
assumption that Indian Muslims can still, in a way, be Hindus, as expressed by token BJP Muslims 
who say things like: "When my ancestors accepted Islam, that didn't mean we changed our culture." 
That remains to be seen: a practicing Muslim is expected to condemn Hindu idolatry and 
polytheism, to have an Arabic name, to observe an Arab-originated dress code, distinct marriage 
customs, food habits, and rituals of which to Hindus some are absurd (circumcision) and others 
repugnant (animal sacrifice, abolished in Vedic ritual millennia ago). Adding separate traditions of 
Muslim architecture, Persian- Arabic vocabulary, poetry, script and music, it is clear that in practice, 
Muslim culture in India, though differing in certain externals from Muslim culture elsewhere, is 
most certainly a different culture from that of the Hindus; in making that very observation during 
his pro-Partition speeches, Jinnah was simply right. In spite of this, Hindutva people insist that an 
“Indianized" Islam can be integrated into a Hindu nationhood. 

Some go even further and accept Indian Muslims within the ambit of Hindutva without any 
questions asked. Thus, veteran journalist M.V. Kamath writes in the Organiser: "Hindutva, then, is 
what is common to all of us, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists... whoever has 
Indian heritage. Hindutva is the engine that pulls the nation and takes us into the future. It is 
cultural nationalism that has the power to unite. (...) Hindutva is not Hinduism, it does not ask 

anyone to follow a particular creed or ritual. Indeed, it does not speak for Hinduism, it is not a 
religious doctrine." [5] This way, the opposition between "Indian secular nationalism" and "Hindu 
communalism" is declared non-existent, essentially by replacing the latter position with the former: 
Klamath's conception of Hindutva is fully coterminous with Nehru's purely territorial patriotism. 

But in that case, what is all the fuss about? If the Hindutva activists are merely Indian nationalists, 
why don't they applaud Nehru and join the secularists? This is one more of those occasions where 
Hindutva spokesmen assert something (i.e. the equivalence of Hindutva and secular nationalism) to 
their own satisfaction, but fail to notice that they are convincing no one, that on the contrary 
everybody derides the exercise as a cheap semantic trick, a transparent attempt to sweep profound 
antagonisms between religions, or between Nehruvian secularism and Hindutva, under the carpet. 

While we could live with redefinitions of the term Hindutva, which is still a neologism, there is just 
no excuse when Hindutva ideologues go as far as to "secularize" the meaning of the established 
term Hindu. Consider the following dialogues, one true and one imaginary, cited by an RSS stalwart 
as evidence that "Hindu" simply means "Indian": 

1. "When the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid of Delhi went to Mecca on a pilgrimage, a local resident 
asked him, 'Are you a Hindu?' The Imam was starded by this question and replied, 'No, I am a 
Muslim.' When Imam Saheb asked him the reason for calling him a Hindu, he replied that all 
'Hindustanis' were called Hindu there." [6] 

2. "A Frenchman asked an Indian, 'What is your religion?' The reply was, 'Hindu.' The Frenchman 
countered: 'That is your nationality; but what is your religion?"' [7] 

This exercise of sanitizing the term "Hindu" from its religio -cultural contents is extremely silly. 

What is the use of learning that some ignorant foreigners call the Shahi Imam a Hindu, when you 
yourself know for fact that the man is an enemy of Hinduism? And what word shall we invent to 
designate the phenomenon which all encyclopedias commonly call "Hinduism", once we have 
imposed on the word "Hindu" the geographical-political meaning which is already satisfactorily 
expressed by the words "Indian" and "Hindustani"? What is gained if the expression "Hindu- 
Muslim riot" becomes replaceable with "Indian-Muslim riot"? Or if the phrase "Hindus dominate 
Nepal" turns out to mean "Indians dominate Nepal"? The people of Nepal, the only Hindu Rashtra 
so far, might not like it. Short, this semantic manipulation is as hopelessly transparent as a child's 
very first lie. Moreover, it would imply that "Hindu Rashtra", the professed goal of this Sangh 
leader, simply means "Indian state"; and this in turn would imply that the Hindutva movement is a 
bunch of buffoons working for the creation of a state which has already been created long ago. [8] If 
the word "Hindu" can only be used after distorting its meaning, it is perhaps just as well that the 
BJP avoids using it. 

Most RSS affiliates pledge allegiance to secularism, but they at least do so by emphasizing the 
"secular" (meaning pluralistic) character of Hinduism, as in the VHP ad campaign: "Hindu India, 
secular India". So, if Hinduism is secular, why not openly acknowledge the Hindu inspiration of the 
BJP's " positive secularism"? Well, a new argument against an explicitation of the BJP's Hindu 
orientation was created by a 1992 court decision under the Representation of the People Act, 

prohibiting the Hindu Mahasabha from contesting elections. The reasons given by the judges were 
that the HMS openly aims at founding a Hindu state and that being a Hindu (though defined very 
inclusively) is a requirement for membership, as per Art.3 and Art. 5. A of the HMS constitution. In 
several cases, moreover, elected candidates for the BJP or the Shiv Sena have been taken to court 
for "corrupt electoral practices", meaning the "use" of religion in their campaigns; some of them 
won their cases, some of them lost, but the danger inherent in openly identifying with the Hindu 
cause was certainly driven home. 

After the Ayodhya demolition, the Congress government threatened to outlaw the BJP on similar 
grounds, but several socialist and casteist parties, the BJP's erstwhile allies in the stmggle against the 
Emergency, refused to support the necessary legislative reform because they remembered all too 
well how small the distance is between such rhetoric of "protecting democracy against the 
communal forces" and the imposition of dictatorship. The BJP calculates that it was lucky this time 
around (and the next time, viz. the Supreme Court verdict that an appeal to "Hindutva" is not a 
cormpt electoral practice), but that on a future occasion, any sign of espousal of a "Hindu" agenda 
may be fatal. Instead of questioning the tendency to outlaw religion as a legitimate factor in political 
choices of Indian citizens, the BJP bends over backwards to adapt to it. 

In Europe, with its centuries of struggle against Christian hegemony, nobody minds that the ruling 
party in Germany is called Christlich-Demokratische Union, "Christian-Democratic Union". [9] 
Democracy allows the citizens to decide for themselves on what basis to form political parties, so 
they exercise the right to found a party committed to "Christian values", and to vote it to power. 
Most Christian-Democratic parties nowadays hasten to add that these "Christian values" have 
become a "common European heritage shared by non-Christians as well". But in India, any hint of 
a "Hindu" party upholding "Hindu values" (even if explained as a "common Indian heritage shared 
by the minorities as well") is declared intolerable by judges and journalists,— and by the leaders of 
the very party concerned. 

"Charlatanism" is the common allegation against traveling babas who promise instant 
enlightenment by means of a simple technique; it certainly applies when they offer another magic 
trick, viz. instant harmony between Hindus and Muslims by means of the "equality of religions" (or 
Ram Rahim ek hai, or Ishwar Allah tere naam, etc.) mantra. 

[2] Thus, M.S. Golwalkar: Bunch of Thoughts (Jagaran Prakashan, Bangalore 1980 (1966)), p.177- 

[3] "Advani wants Muslims to identify with 'Hindutva'", Times of India, 30/1/1995. 

[4] To support this non-doctrinal, non-communal usage of the term Hindu, K.S. Sudarshan relates 
some anecdotes where Arabs and Frenchmen refer to any Indian (including the Imam of Delhi's 
Jama Masjid when he visited Arabia) as a "Hindu". A linguist would say that in that case, the word 
Hindu is a "false friend": though sounding the same, it has a different meaning in Arabic on the one 
and English or Hindi on the other hand. This is obviously no sound basis for denying the operative 
(and historical, and legal) meaning of Hindu as "any Indian except Muslims, Christians and Parsis". 

[5] M.V. Kamath: "The Essence of Hindutva", Organiser, 28 April 1996. If "Indian heritage" is the 
unifying element, the point is precisely that Muslims and Christians reject this heritage. 

[6] Adapted from Saptahik Hindustan, 1 May 1977, in K.S. Sudarshan et al.: Why Hindu Rashtra? 
(Suruchi Prakashan, Delhi 1990), p.5. 

[7] Ibid.; the story is an anachronism, for by now the French distinguish clearly between indien 
(pertaining to the Indian territory or state) and hindou (pertaining to Hindu religion). 

[8] We forego the occasion to enter the discussion on the exact meaning of the word Rashtra, 
simply because it is so obvious: the word can be analyzed as "instrument (-tra) of rulership (raj)", 
hence "the institution through which government is exercised", hence "state"; and not "nation" (as 
some RSS stalwarts insist on asserting), the subject for whose benefit this political instmment is 
created. Even if the latter meaning is accepted, the "Hindu Rashtra" is an entity which (especially 
according to Sangh ideologues) has been in existence for ages, viz. the Hindu nation. 

[9] A Gandhian secularist remarked about this comparison that "Christian-Democratic" refers to a 
well-defined "Christian" identity, and that there is no Indian equivalent to this, since "Hinduism" is 
but an undefined conglomerate. In fact, when the German Christian-Democratic Union was 
founded, fifty years ago, Protestants and Catholics were still mutually hostile religions, and it was 
something of a revolution to create a joint political platform representing the values they held in 
common. A fortiori, the different "Hindu" traditions (which do not have a history of religious wars 
against one another, as Catholicism and Protestantism do) can quite legitimately be united for 
political purposes on a common platform. 

4. The BJP flag 

A "Hindu” or non-Hindu party name would matter littie if the policies behind it would be the right 
ones, but as we shall demonstrate, the avoidance of a Hindu self-designation goes hand in hand 
with the avoidance of certain pressing Hindu concerns in the party's policies. While we are 
discussing the party's self-presentation, we may add to our doubts about the chosen name, the 
question of the party's flag. Many party workers are embarrassed with the green-saffron flag, and I 
want to give a voice to their misgivings. 

When the BJP was founded, a new flag was devised: "two vertical colours, saffron and green, in the 
ratio of 2:1, with the election symbol of the Party [lotus flower] in blue colour in the middle of the 
saffron portion equal to half its size. The green portion will be near the mast."[l] Why the green 
part? When questioned, more than one BJP spokesman will try to conceal the simple truth, e.g. by 
arguing that this was the flag of the unified Janata Party of 1977-79, of which the new BJP had 
claimed the heritage. [2] In reality, the Janata Party had its colours in vertical instead of horizontal 
juxtaposition, and no lotus flower, so the BJP flag was definitely a newly designed flag. 

The Hindu Mahasabha flag was and is saffron, adorned with several Hindu symbols. Shivaji's flag 
was plain saffron and is still used by the Shiv Sena as well as by the RSS. The old Jan Sangh flag was 
saffron, adorned only with a lamp. Whatever else may be said of these organizations, they have 
pledged allegiance to Hinduism at least at the level of visual symbolism. Of course, this colour does 
not necessarily imply a bold commitment to Hinduism: when challenged by secularists about this 
shameless expression of Hindu inspiration, Hindutva spokesmen so inclined can always wriggle out 
by saying that the saffron flag is just a conventional symbol, a historical remnant, in fact the original 
pre-Independence Congress choice as the secular national flag, or some such disclaimer. Yet, upon 
being constituted as a new party in 1 980, the BJP chose to betray even that merely symbolic link 
with Hinduism. 

The BJP's flag, like the Congress and Republic flags, is one-third green. The green was added as the 
symbol of Islam as a permanent declaration that the new party was Muslim- friendly. This is a more 
extreme case of Muslim appeasement than the inclusion of green in the national flag. 

Firstly, as a classical tricolour scheme, the Indian flag, unlike the BJP flag, may be read as just 
another instance of the traditional Indo-European scheme of three qualities (triguna) found in most 
tricolour flags: white as representing the serene (sattvika) quality, saffron or red for the energetic 
(rajasika) quality, and a dark colour for the material (tamasika) quality. The dark colour can vary 
between different Indo-European cultures, and may be black, brown, blue or even green; in which 
case, green has a natural non-communal symbol value in a Vedic cosmological scheme. This way, 
the Congress /Republic flag at least satisfies certain patterns of universal symbolism; by contrast, the 
imposition of a green part on the BJP flag admits of no interpretation except as a kow-tow to Islam. 

In a future post-communal era, the said triguna symbolism may become the official explanation of 

the Republic flag's colour division, but its historical genesis was of course communal: during the 
Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai era of Congress collaboration with the (intrinsically anti-national) Khilafat 
agitation, Muslim mili tants and their Hindu sympathizers inside the Congress insisted on including 
green, conventionally the emblematic colour of the desert religion, Islam. The Congress Flag 
Committee (1931) proposed the plain saffron flag (with blue charkha) as a historically rooted, truly 
national flag for independent India. [3] Disregarding the Committee's advice, the Congress 
leadership opted once more for the tricolour scheme which was commonly understood to signify a 
pledge of allegiance to both Hinduism and Islam. But then, secondly, the Indian National Congress 
had at least the excuse of being pressed by Muslim communalist party members into adopting this 
communal colour scheme. The BJP has no such excuse: the number of Muslims present when the 
flag was designed, was negligeable, and these BJP Muslims (always paraded as truly "nationalist 
Muslims") are not known to have pressed any demands on this. 

Moreover, thirdly, the Congress had to devise a national flag somehow representative of a nation 
which it conceived as "composite" and "multi-religious", not the symbol of a party representing a 
single ideology. By contrast, the BJP merely had to choose a party flag, representative only of its 
own political identity. Entirely by its own choice, the BJP leadership chose to burden a party which 
thrives on Hindu votes, with a symbol of subservience to the religion which killed millions of 
Hindus, including hundreds of thousands within our own lifetime. Many ordinary BJP and Sangh 
Parivar workers have expressed their dismay about this imposition, and identify A.B. Vajpayee as 
the crucial influence in giving the party flag a Muslim colour; though I would add that after all, the 
majority of the party leadership must have voted to accept their choice. The problem lies not with a 
few individuals; in different degrees, it affects the BJP if not the Sangh cadre as a whole. 

Like the flag, many policies of the BJP are one-third Islamic. When Prime Minister V.P. Singh 
earmarked 5 million Rupees for the beautification of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, run by Singh's ally 
Imam Bukhari, Organiser protested loudly against this "blatant" case of "Muslim appeasement". But 
when Bhairon Singh Shekhawat became BJP Chief Minister in Rajasthan (admittedly in coalition 
with the more pro-Muslim Janata Dal), one of the first things he did was to grant 67 million Rupees 
for the beautification of the Ajmer mausoleum of Muinuddin Chishti, a Sufi saint who preached 
against "idolatry" and who was buried on the site of a demolished Hindu temple. Doubtlessly, the 
BJP did this to prove its "secularism", though it is not clear what could be secular about the 
monument of a Sufi fanatic, built with materials of destroyed Hindu temples. Orthodox biographies 
of Muinuddin say in so many words that he invited Mohammed Ghori for destroying the Chauhan 
Kingdom and establishing Islam, and that he accepted as a gift from Allah the daughter of a Hindu 
Prince who had been captured by Muslim raiders and presented to him. Reports of the 
Archaeological Survey of India have found pieces of many Hindu idols embedded in buildings all 
over the sprawling dargah. 

The promised crackdown on illegal immigrants from Bangladesh (not really communal, merely the 
implementation of existing laws, but somehow vilified as communal) never materialized in any of 
the BJP-ruled states. The only state where an attempt was made, though without any substantial 
results, is Maharashtra, where it is left to the Shiv Sena to claim the credit for this slightly tougher 
policy. The BJP has a "Minority Cell", and its members are expected to be exemplary Muslims, 

dutifully interrupting committee meetings for namaz. 

Whether one applauds or deplores it, the actual facts are that the BJP, like the pre-Independence 
Congress, goes out of its way to put some token Muslims or Muslim symbols on display. Whatever 
the BJP may say about "Muslim appeasement" by Congress, its own record in this regard shows 
that it is equally subservient to the chimera of Muslim-certified secularism. 

[1] BJP Constitution and Rules (1987 ed.), p.4. 

[2] This was the explanation given in 1990 by the RSS Baudhik Pramukh (overseer for intellectual 
development) for Maharashtra to historian Shrikant Talageri (personal communication, December 

[3] The story is told by K.R. Malkani: The Politics of Ayodhya and Hindu-Muslim Relations (Har- 
Anand Publ., Delhi 1993), p.175-179. 

5. How the Rama card was 
thrown away 

Ever since the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1996, the BJP was as silent as 
possible on the Ayodhya issue. It is just too embarrassed, and avoids mentioning the very name of 
Ayodhya or Rama. On 17 December 1992 already, A.B. Vajpayee declared in the Lok Sabha: "We 
are very sad at what happened in Ayodhya on the 6th December." L.K. Advani, who had been the 
front man of the Ayodhya movement until he broke down in tears at the sight of the demolition, 
had narrowly succeeded in making a dignified statement during his first press meet after the 
demolition (thanks to the insistent prodding of one of his well-wishers who merely happened to be 
present, and who convinced Advani to replace the weak and apologetic statement which his 
assistant had prepared with a better one), but more recently he too joined Vajpayee in dismissing 
the historic event as a "Himalayan blunder". 

Of course, most of us would have preferred a smooth unopposed transition from misplaced 
mosque to fitting temple in Ayodhya, but in the circumstances, the prospects for temple 
construction without this direct action were bleak. All that the BJP had achieved at the purely 
political level was to provoke the 1991 Places of Worship Act, which freezes the status of places of 
worship as it was in the colonial age (depriving them of the benefits of independence). Therefore, in 
their comments, the BJP leaders should have shown some appreciation for the constraints which 
drove the Kar Sevaks to make possible the construction for which Advani c.s. had been 

I still have a high opinion of Mr. Advani personally, but he has proved to be a true representative of 
this confused tendency which I call BJP secularism. Trying to be nice to everyone is fine, but should 
one enter politics and defy a formidable enemy like Islam (which Advani had done by implicidy 
challenging Islam's right to usurp a Hindu sacred site) if one is not prepared for some rough 
weather? With but few exceptions, such as Kalyan Singh and Vijay Kumar Malhotra, most BJP 
leaders now take the evasive or apologetic line on Ayodhya. 

The truth of the matter is that the BJP leadership never had its heart in the Ayodhya campaign. 
When outside factors and the VHP brought the Ayodhya issue centre-stage in the mid-80s, the BJP 
joined the movement because of its apparent potential for mass mobilization. Yet, even after the 
VHP's Ram Shila Pujas (consecrating bricks in every village and taking them in procession to 
Ayodhya, autumn 1989) became a roaring success, it took Prime Minister V.P. Singh's prodding to 
get the BJP to organize the fabled Rath Yatra (October 1990). Singh had made the ludicrous 
promise to Imam Bukhari of securing the disputed site for the Muslim community, and he needed 
some serious Hindu pressure to provide him with an excuse to renege on his promise. [1] After 
riding the Rama wave to an electoral breakthrough in May-June 1991, the BJP started distancing 
itself from the Ayodhya issue. By 6 December 1992, many activists had lost patience with the BJP, 

and a vanguard group organized the historic instance of direct action, all while keeping the BJP 
leadership (deemed the weakest link in the Hindutva chain) in the dark. 

When the Babri walls came tumbling down, L.K. Advani, who had looked like such a divine hero in 
his Ram Rath, could not help shedding tears over the damage done to the BJP's secular self-image. 
The same thing happened to many BJP office-bearers at the Delhi headquarters when they heard 
the news about the demolition (so I was told by one of them). Even VHP leader Ashok Singhal, 
certainly more sincere in his Ayodhya commitment than the politicians, tried to stop the activists, 
until they threatened to pull off his dhoti if he didn't shut up. If we are to believe the secularist 
commentators, all that was theatre. Well, no, it was quite genuine; just as genuine as Murli Manohar 
Joshi's jubilation, which was gleefully highlighted by the same secularists. 

If the Indian media were not as corrupt as they are (power corrupts, and the media wield 
tremendous power, so), they would have found out and told us who exactly masterminded the 
demolition; it was not so hard to find out. But instead, the Indian media spurned the scoop of the 
year and insisted on the politically more useful version blaming Mr. Advani, somewhat like 
Jawaharlal Nehru's attempt to implicate Veer Savarkar in the Mahatma Gandhi murder. 

Frightened by the Muslim-cum-secularist sound and fury after the demolition, and shocked by its 
own failure to live up to its secular and disciplined self-image, the BJP completed its (until then 
gradual) retreat from Ayodhya overnight. Even four years later, any talk of a return to the Ayodhya 
plank was dismissed by the party leadership as absurd. As party spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said 
(November 1996), in an unabashed show of opportunism as the only guide in the party's choices: 
"You cannot cash a cheque twice." Until then, one could have thought that the BJP's silence on 
Ayodhya was part of a reasoned policy of shifting the focus of action to the judicial debate before 
the Allahabad High Court, which has been deliberating on the dispute since 1950 (the Court's 
pussyfooting is itself one of the causes of the polarizing and violent turn which the dispute has 
taken), but has recendy been showing real signs of life; now, Ms. Swaraj's statement proves that 
there is no deep strategy involved, merely a tactic of grabbing whichever vote-catching issues 
present themselves, and dropping them when they become less useful or too difficult to handle. 

The BJP's enemies spread two mutually exclusive views of the BJP: that it is a rabid fundamentalist 
party bound to turn India into a theocracy, and that it is a placid opportunistic party which merely 
uses religion for its all too mundane goal of enjoying the spoils of power. Recent developments 
have given a verdict between these two, in favour of the opportunism theory. 

The BJP's next election campaigns featured harmless secular slogans like "good government" (su- 
ra j), though a few candidates in Hindutva-sensitized areas in U.P. also tried to capitalize on the 
Demolition, boasting that "we did what we promised". Still, the secular non-Ayodhya profile cost 
the party many seats in the 1996 U.P. state elections (as Kalyan Singh has admitted), losses not fully 
compensated by the party's gains in other districts, which were often due to the disunity in the anti- 
BJP camp. This was the first sign that the BJP cannot go on taking the Hindu voter for granted 
indefinitely. On the other hand, the 1995 state elections in Maharashtra and Gujarat and the 1996 
Lok Sabha elections were undeniably victories for the BJP. So, the secularists in the BJP feel assured 

that Hindu activism is dead, or is at any rate not a vote attractor. Yet, this secular posturing may 
also prove to be a "cheque which cannot be cashed twice", for the BJP's credibility as a provider of 
clean and effective governance has plummeted. The performance of its state governments and the 
recent corruption and defection scandals have confirmed to the public what party insiders have 
been telling me for some years: the party leadership has no greater ambition than to be the 
Congress B-team. 

Just like Congress has been capitalizing on the sacrifices of the Freedom movement for decades, the 
BJP tries to capitalize on its association with the Hindu cause. The equation of the BJP with militant 
Hinduism is now mosdy kept alive by its enemies (who, fortunately for the BJP, dominate the 
media). The effect is that the BJP can take the Hindu-minded voter for granted all while fishing 
after the non-Hindu and the anti-Hindu vote, and making the concomitant concessions. But the 
real commitment to the Hindu cause is now as far removed from the BJP leadership's thinking as 
Gandhian ideals are from the most corrupt Congress leader. 

A movement having the size of the Ayodhya agitation can only make sense if major historical issues 
are involved, in this case the role of Islam in Indian history, of which the destruction of the Rama 
temple and its replacement with a mosque are perfectly representative. Therefore, historians like 
Harsh Narain, G.L. Verma, K.S. Lai and Sita Ram Goel responded to the Ayodhya controversy by 
collecting and presenting several types of evidence for the thousands upon thousands of temple 
destructions wrought by Islam in India, and by pinpointing the large and unambiguous scriptural 
basis for this Islamic iconoclasm. They faced the fact that it is not possible to raise the Ayodhya 
issue in a consistent and credible way without tracing the problem to its source, viz. the Quran and 
the model behaviour of prophet Mohammed, who destroyed all the idols in the Kaaba and had all 
traces of other religions in Arabia removed or destroyed. 

By contrast, the BJP tried to redefine the Ayodhya debate away from its religious basis and into a 
matter of secular patriotism: the "national hero" Rama versus the "foreign invader" Babar. In reality, 
of course, nationality or geographical provenance had nothing to do with it: the native convert 
Malik Kafur was a great temple-destroyer, while the foreign British colonizer left temples in peace 
and even invested men and money in their upkeep and scholarly description. 

BJP supporters started claiming that Islam itself condemns temple destruction and that a prayer 
offered in a mosque built on a destroyed temple is held to be invalid by Islam itself. In essence, they 
claimed Ayodhya for the Hindus in the name of Islam. One Hindu professor even revealed to me 
that the Islamic agitators had falsified Islamic scripture to make it sound hostile to Hinduism while 
originally it had been quite in agreement with Hindu scripture. The capacity of Hindus for self- 
deception is truly extraordinary. They can invent any fairy-tale just to avoid facing the fact that 
Islam has declared war on Hinduism in the 7th century AD and that it has never rescinded this 
declaration of war. 

But of course, no one was fooled. Not one Muslim replied: "Now you come to mention it, this 
mosque has been standing there illegally for centuries without any of us realizing it. Our Quran 
orders us to remove this nuisance to make way for a Hindu temple." All the Rafiq Zakarias and 

Asghar AH Engineers, always so eager to extol the tolerance and magnanimity of Islam, unitedly 
refused to oblige the BJP spokesmen, and solidly defended the right of Muslims to occupy the 
sacred sites of others (it was only after the much-maligned Demolition that Wahiduddin Khan and 
Asghar Ali Engineer came to their senses and wisely advised Muslims not to press for the 
reimposition of a mosque on this Hindu sacred site). 

This wilful confusion and half-heartedness about the issues inherendy raised by the Ayodhya 
controversy made it impossible for the BJP to state its case, or rather Hindu society's case, in a 
straightforward and convincing manner. While thousands of mosques have forcibly displaced 
temples, the VHP demand was for just three, and the BJP narrowed that figure down to one. Seen 
in the proper perspective, this was incredibly modest: the guilt of Islam is staggering, yet the Hindu 
fundamentalist party is satisfied with its abandonment of one sacred site which was not under 
Muslim control anyway. But in the BJP perspective, this extremely modest demand came to look 
unreasonable and fanatical ("such a nationwide fuss over a mere building"), precisely because the 
whole context of the staggering guilt of Islam was kept out of the debate as much as possible. 

Consider the result of the Ayodhya campaign. While it is totally obvious that a Hindu sacred site 
belongs to the Hindus and to no one else, all the non-fringe Indian media strongly condemned the 
Hindu reappropriation of the Ram Janmabhoomi site. While no religious Westerner or East Asian 
would approve of the take-over of the sacred sites of his own religion by outsiders, Western and 
East Asian media (not to speak of Muslim media) were united in their strong condemnation when 
Hindus tried to undo just such a take-over. While in other conflicts (say, the Gulf War) both 
warring parties end up getting some moral or actual support from somewhere, in this case there was 
no trace of support for the Hindu position anywhere in the world. The Ayodhya campaign was 
conducted in such a way as to leave Hindu society totally bereft of friends. Without exaggeration, 
the BJP's Ayodhya campaign was the single biggest public relations disaster in world history. 

The BJP has never subjected itself to the critical introspection which this experience called for. To 
be sure, it disliked the opprobrium intensely, but it merely tried to wriggle out from under it, 
dispensing with the trouble of making a proper evaluation and of articulating a consistent stand. 
There is no such thing as a Hindutva-inspired analysis of the difference which the Demolition has 
made for the Hindu cause in general or even for the Sangh's or the BJP's strategic position 
specifically. The numerous publications on the significance of the Demolition are all by secularists 
and Muslims. Without doing any analysis of its own, the BJP effectively plumped for the secularist 
view that the Demolition was wrong, and compromised the whole Ayodhya movement along with 
it. So, it kind of apologized and changed the subject. 

[1] It may be recalled that some of V.P. Singh's scheming on Ayodhya was made public by Arun 
Shourie, the only editor who had opened his columns for articles on the history of Islamic 
iconoclasm; and that a short while later, he was sacked as Indian Express editor. One of the hands 
behind his removal was Nana Deshmukh, supposedly a Hindutva stalwart. 

6. Sangh Parivar, the last 

When in 1980, the secularist tendency led by Nana Deshmukh and Atal Behari Vajpayee imposed 
"Gandhian socialism" on the newly founded BJP as its official ideology, all the establishment 
secularists laughed at this transparent attempt to acquire a new secular identity. [1] "This party is 
neither Gandhian nor socialist", they said. The party was in fact more socialist than it would like to 
admit after liberalization became the new orthodoxy, certainly more socialist than the non-socialist 
"cleverest bourgeois scoundrel" Gandhi ever was, but we can agree that it was less socialist than was 
normative in 1980. What interests us more, is whether the BJP, always accused of having historical 
links with Gandhi's assassin, can legitimately be called Gandhian. 

My view is that within the present political spectmm, the BJP is definitely and by far the most 
Gandhian party. The former socialists and populists, who had inherited part of the Gandhian legacy 
through Jayaprakash Narayan, have become nothing but casteist interest groups steeped in coercive 
tactics and crime; there is nothing Gandhian about them anymore. Congress, of course, presided 
over the betrayal of every single Gandhian policy under Nehru's Prime Ministership, and its level of 
morality and dedication to the nation is nothing that Gandhi would be proud of. 

By contrast, the BJP, or rather the Sangh Parivar as a whole, is definitely a Gandhian movement in 
many respects. The Sangh Parivar supports economic self-reliance (swadeshi) coupled with cultural 
self-reliance. The Sangh workers shun luxury and move around by public transport, in the lowest- 
class compartments; in communications as well as in their martial arts practice (with the stick), they 
are deliberately settling for older technology, quite comparable to Gandhi's choice for living in the 
past with his charkha. Sangh whole-timers practise the typically Gandhian mix of politics and 
asceticism (including sexual abstinence). The Sangh protests against Miss World flesh shows, the 
promotion of meat consumption by American fast food chains, the unnecessary and dismptive 
promotion of tooth paste at the expense of indigenous methods of dental hygiene, and other 
instances of dumping India's heritage in favour of undesirable and/ or foreign alternatives. This 
earns Sangh activists haughty smirks from the elite, but that itself is yet another point in common 
with Gandhi and his spinning-wheel. 

In some respects, the RSS follows Gandhi even where Gandhi was decidedly un-Hindu. The 
seeming unwillingness to use the modern-most technology and media (which is gradually being 
superseded by modernizing efforts originating largely in NRI circles) is Gandhian enough, but is 
unwarranted from a Hindu viewpoint. The ancient Hindus in the Indus-Saraswati civilization were 
in the vanguard of humanity in science and technology; Gandhi had his retro-mania from Christian 
romantics like Thoreau and Tolstoy. The combination of social work with celibacy is characteristic 
of certain Roman Catholic monastic orders, but is foreign to Hindu tradition, where a clean 
separation is maintained between, on the one hand, the self-supporting worldly society, which takes 

care of its needy and in which every able-bodied young man is expected to start a family, and on the 
other hand the circles of celibate sadhus from whom no worldly service is required because their 
spiritual practice is contribution enough. 

Three central aspects of the Sangh's work are typically Gandhian, and are also the key to its success. 
One is its grass-roots work, its impressive record in actual social service, which is far larger and 
more deserving of a Nobel prize than Mother Teresa's heavily foreign-financed operations. Like for 
Mahatma Gandhi, politics for the Sangh is but one aspect of a much larger social programme 
carried out by the citizens' own initiative and effort. This creates a much closer rapport with the 
masses, a movement with much stronger roots than purely political movements like the Hindu 

The second Gandhi-like aspect of the Sangh's success is its religious dimension. Though the BJP 
insists on its secular character, many of the Sangh-affiliated organizations and individuals are not 
that shy about their Hindu moorings, and this is precisely one of the reasons why they strike a 
chord of confidence among the people. Tilak, Aurobindo and Gandhi made the independence 
movement into a mass movement by giving it a religious dimension; it is for the same reason that 
the Sangh has become a mass movement firmly rooted in the general population, a pool of Hindu 
commitment on which the BJP can draw at voting time. 

The third Gandhian trait in the Sangh's style of functioning is the moral dimension which it gives to 
its politics. The BJP advertises itself as a disciplined party free of corruption. When during the 1996 
Lok Sabha election campaign, Narasimha Rao's men tried to implicate L.K. Advani in a financial 
scandal, the public reacted with a sincere disbelief: he may be a communalist, but we never saw any 
sign of corruption in him. My own experience confirms that in general, the workers of the Sangh- 
affiliated organizations are sincerely dedicated to the well-being of their country and society without 
expecting personal benefits in return. [2] Of late, this reputation has been corroded by scandals 
involving the BJP (though it remains the cleanest party by far), and even RSS grassroots recruitment 
is feeling the effect of the general spread of consumerism in Hindu society. Traditionally, Hindus 
have held self-abnegation as practiced by Sangh workers in high esteem, but many members of the 
new generation (yuppie or goonda) merely find it funny; the RSS-Gandhian ethos has now become 
an upstream effort defying the spirit of the times. 

The kinship between the Sangh and Gandhi is real enough in these positive aspects, but it is just as 
palpable in some negative respects. To start with a small but nasty point, Gandhi thought his own 
position (call it the Gandhian sampradaya/ sect) represented the whole of Hinduism, both at the 
political and the religio-philosophical level, and strongly resented alternative centres of Hindu 
mobilization. Though calling himself a Hindu, he claimed the leadership of the whole nation and 
not just of the Hindus, though the British secularists and the Muslims never conceded this more- 
than-Hindu identity to him (certainly a parallel with the Bharatiya rather than Hindu Janata Party). 
When the Muslim League became a formidable challenger to Gandhi's claim, it would have been in 
the nation's and his own interest to let the Hindu Mahasabha counterbalance the League's influence; 
moderates normally use the presence of radicals as a useful bargaining-chip. But Gandhi and his 
Congress wanted the whole Hindu cake to themselves. 

The same intolerance of or at least annoyance with rivals for the Hindu constituency is in evidence 
in the Sangh. In surveys of Sangh history, there is remarkably little reference to the Hindu 
Mahasabha and other Hindu organizations. Especially glaring is the RSS reluctance to acknowledge 
the role of Babarao Savarkar (elder brother of V. D. Savarkar and an outstanding revolutionary in 
his own right). It was Babarao who had drafted the original RSS pledge and included the term 
Hindu Rashtra in it. He had suggested the saffron RSS flag. He had merged his own Tarun Hindu 
Sabha as well as Sant Panchelgaonkar Maharaj’s Mukteshwar Dal into the fledgling RSS. He was 
responsible for bringing into the RSS such luminaries as Bhalji Pendharkar, the noted film director 
and later the Dadasaheb Phalke award winner Kashinath Pant Limaye who became the provincial 
head of the Maharashtra RSS, Babu Padmaraj Jain and other. Baburao toured extensively for the 
RSS in spite of his failing health. Both Hedgewar and Golwalkar had great respect for Babarai. Yet 
The RSS Story by K. R. Malkani does not even mention Babarao’s name. In fact some narrow 
minded RSS leaders from Pune had tempered with the chapter in Babarao’s contribution (written 
by P. N. Gokhale) that deals with Babarao’s contribution to the growth of the RSS. Similarly, no 
acknowledgement is made of the help which the RSS received from the Arya Samaj and the Hindu 
Mahasabha everywhere. 

During the 1989 elections, when the BJP had an electoral alliance with the Janata Dal, Balraj 
Madhok stood as a candidate for the reconstituted Bharatiya Jan Sangh against the Janata Dal 
candidate in Lucknow. Most Hindutva people were eager to work for Madhok, "one of us", against 
the JD secularist officially supported by the BJP. When Madhok looked sure to win the election, 
Vajpayee hurried to Lucknow to discipline the BJP workers; he could not tolerate that a non-BJP 
man would enter the Lok Sabha in spite of his proven merit for the Hindu cause. 

In a way, the Sangh attitude mirrors that of mendacious secularists who always label anyone 
speaking up for the Hindus as an "RSS man": they identify the Hindu cause with the Sangh. 
Generally they do not see beyond the confines of the Sangh and are practically unaware that there 
are conscious Hindus outside the Sangh. 

A typical Gandhian flaw in BJP functioning, the result of mixing self-denial (a personal discipline) 
with politics (a public affair), is the absence of any healthy sense of quid pro quo. Gandhi always 
sacrificed Indian or Hindu interests without asking anything in return, hoping that this would soften 
the heart of the beneficiary and put him in the right mood to give something back at his own 
initiative. Thus, after the outbreak of World War 1, "Indian political leaders, 'moderate' as well as 
'extremist', were unanimous that the people of India should support the British cause against the 
Germans, but only for a price: the promise of home rule after the war. Gandhi was almost alone in 
rejecting the idea of a political bargain with the British; he cherished the hope that in return for 
unconditional support, a grateful and victorious Britain would give India her due when the war was 
over. "[3] As it turned out, the British took Gandhi's services (recruiting Indian volunteers to die a 
useless and horrible death in the war against Germans who had done the Indians no harm) but, 
except for an embarrassing medal of loyal service to the British Empire, they gave him nothing in 
return. In the real world, politicians bargain for a tangible quid pro quo and don't count on 

This Gandhian idiosyncrasy has set a trend in Indian foreign policy. In his infamous 1954 "Panch 

shed" treaty with China, Nehru conceded China's claim to Tibet but extracted no Chinese 
acceptance of India's established borders in return. In the Indo-Pak wars, Indian successes on the 
battlefield were squandered in Nehru's vainglorious attempt to posture as an apostle of 
internationalism (bringing in the UNO in the Kashmir dispute, 1948), or as an occasion to show off 
India's sportsmanship (ceding the territory conquered in 1965), or in return for a meaningless 
declaration of good intent (releasing the Pakistani prisoners for a never-kept promise to keep the 
Kashmir issue bilateral in 1971). In 1996, India parted with a large percentage of the Ganga water 
supply in an empty show of generosity to Bangladesh, effectively hurting its own agriculture and 
shipping industry, without even asking anything in return: not that Bangladesh treat the Hindu 
minority correctly, not that it restore the Chakma lands to its Chakma refugees, not that it take back 
its illegal Muslim migrants, not that it close its borders to separatist guerrilla groups terrorizing 
India's northeast. 

In this habit of making unilateral gestures to undeserving enemies, Gandhi had no followers more 
imitative than the BJP. This party always sells out its principles and pays homage to everything and 
everyone its enemies cherish, without ever exacting even a promise (let alone a real bargain) in 
return. No matter how many concessions A.B. Vajpayee offered during his 13-day tenure as Prime 
Minister in search of a majority, no matter how hard he kicked his Kashmiri refugee supporters in 
the groin by promising to preserve Art. 370, no matter how sincerely he condemned the Ayodhya 
demolition, he did not get a single undertaking from a non-" communal" parliamentarian to support 
the government during the confidence vote. No matter how deep the BJP leaders crawl in the dust 
begging for certificates of good secular conduct from their enemies, this has never yielded them 
anything except contempt. But so far, everything indicates that they can be counted upon to 
continue in the same direction. 

[1] We omit discussion of the lack of an agreed meaning for the term "Gandhian socialism". An 
insider told me that during one of the constituent meetings of the budding BJP, a vote was taken on 
whether the ideology should be "integral humanism" or "Gandhian socialism"; the latter won with a 
small majority, but to please everyone, it was then decided that the "Gandhian socialism" is actually 
the same thing as "integral humanism". The incident reveals the lack of ideological seriousness in 
the BJP. Similar illustrations of this weakness include Govindacharya's 1996 enthusiasm for "social 
engineering", a term dear to totalitarian regimes by which he meant simply the induction of more 
Backward Caste candidates in the elections. 

[2] It is a different matter that this personal modesty is often combined with a lack of collective 
Sangh modesty. Many Sangh workers are extremely touchy about criticism of the Sangh, even when 
they don't mind criticism of Hinduism or India. 

[3] B.R. Nanda: Gandhi and his Critics (OUP, Delhi 1993), p.l 1 6. 

7. Gandhian Non-Violence 

One point where the BJP seems to be decidedly un-Gandhian is defence policy. Whereas Gandhi 
had advocated a stricdy non-violent strategy including an unarmed defence against the impending 
Japanese invasion, the BJP advocates a strong defence capability including weapons of mass 
destruction. Yet, even here the BJP is more Gandhian than one would expect. 

The famous quotation of Mahatma Gandhi on Hindu cowards and Muslim bullies deserves to be 
read in full: "There is no doubt in my mind that in the majority 7 of quarrels the Hindus come out 
second best. But my own experience confirms the opinion that the Mussalman as a rule is a bully, 
and the Hindu as a rule is a coward. I have noticed this in railway trains, on public roads, and in the 
quarrels which I had the privilege of settling. Need the Hindu blame the Mussalman for his 
cowardice? Where there are cowards, there will always be bullies. They say that in Saharanpur the 
Mussalmans looted houses, broke open safes and, in one case, a Hindu woman's modesty was 
outraged. Whose fault was this? Mussalmans can offer no defence for the execrable conduct, it is 
true. But I, as a Hindu, am more ashamed of Hindu cowardice than I am angry at the Mussalman 
bullying. Why did not the owners of the houses looted die in the attempt to defend their 
possessions? Where were the relatives of the outraged sister at the time of the outrage? Have they 
no account to render of themselves? My non-violence does not admit of running away from danger 
and leaving dear ones unprotected. Between violence and cowardly flight, I can only prefer violence 
to cowardice. "[1] 

Gandhi declares that the owners of the looted houses ought to have chosen to "die in the attempt 
to defend their possessions". But why should the lawful owner die, in punishment of what crime? If 
anyone has to die at all, would it not be more fair, more just, to let the aggressor die rather than his 
victim? Justice does not figure in Gandhi's calculus of non-violence at all. People should innocendy 
die as some kind of moral gesture rather than inflict a just punishment on the aggressor: a morbid 
kind of personal asceticism eclipses any socially responsible concern for public justice. Or does 
Gandhi mean that people should expose themselves to the risk of dying by fighting the aggressor 
rather than flee? While Gandhi did make many morbid and ridiculous statements about the virtue 
of getting killed (e.g. about the cows willingly offering themselves to the tiger until the tiger gets 
tired of beef and turns vegetarian), here he says: "I prefer violence to cowardice." Gandhi is 
ashamed that Hindus failed to put up an effective self-defence, and wants them to do better next 

Here, for once, Gandhi seems to link up with a whole tradition of mature thinkers who have taken 
a proportionalist view of the acceptability of violence: in cases where force can reasonably be 
expected to make the difference (not when the situation is hopeless, as pointed out by Thomas 
Aquinas in his theory of "just war"), it is lawful to use force to ward off aggression. In its own view 
of itself, the RSS has precisely taken up the challenge formulated here by Gandhi: "Need the Hindu 
blame the Mussalman for his own cowardice?" Gandhi calls on Hindus not to be cowards in the 

face of Muslim bullies. In response, the RSS claims it builds martial qualities and equips its workers 
with the strength to face bullies. There is nothing un-Gandhian about RSS martial arts practice. 
Even the Shiv Sena, the Mumbai Mafia which organized the defence of the Hindus when the 
Muslims were starting a pogrom in January 1993 could claim to have done Gandhi's bidding (and 
then overdone it a bit; but Gandhi too used to overdo things). 

But then there is the other, unrealistic face of Gandhi, the morbid face of "when slapped, turn the 
other cheek". Even in this extremist view of non-violence, the RSS is often a follower of Gandhi. 
During the Khalistani separatist struggle in Panjab (1981-93), hundreds of RSS and BJP men were 
killed by the Khalistanis, yet this did not provoke a single act of retaliation. When in ca. 1990, and 
again in 1996, Communist militants started killing RSS men in Kerala, the RSS was very slow to 
react in kind. The Islamic bomb attacks on Sangh centres in Chennai and elsewhere, the murders of 
BJP politicians in UP, Mumbai and elsewhere, they all have not provoked any counter-attacks. Anti- 
Hindu governments in Bihar and West Bengal have achieved some success in preventing the 
growth of sizable RSS chapters by means of mthless intimidation and violence, all without having to 
fear any RSS retaliation. 

The RSS often celebrates its "martyrs", which it calls "shahid", unmindful of the fact that this is a 
stricdy Islamic term. [2] The word shahid is related to shahada ("witnessing", viz. to the two tmth 
claims of the Islamic creed: there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is His prophet), and means 
"a witness [to the Islamic faith]", i.e. one who has fallen during Islam's war against the unbelievers. 
To use this term for an unbeliever killed by the believers is an insult to both sides. Honouring those 
who died for the cause is fine, but the thing to note is that the RSS never honours those who killed 
for the cause. Muslims at least honour the kafir-killer (ghazi) along with the martyr (shahid), but the 
Sangh follows Gandhi in choosing to extol dying rather than killing for the cause. 

Is this, then, a plea for more violence? Should the RSS start to live up to its mediatic image of "the 
world's largest private militia"? Should it drop its stick-fighting gymnastics and move on to more 
realistic training with AK-47s? That is the plea which I sometimes hear from younger Hindutva 
activists. Frustrated by the leadership's appeasement policies, they want action, they want to "teach 
them a lesson" (i.e. to the Muslims). It has been done before: during Partition, Sangh workers were 
quite active in taking revenge on Muslims inside India (as eyewitnesses have told me), doing some 
bullying of their own, though I am not aware of similar martial RSS feats in the territory allotted to 
Pakistan. [3] At any rate, the use of force seems to be the only alternative they can imagine for the 
confused and weak-kneed policies of the present leadership. 

Now that Hindus have practically disappeared from Pakistan and Bangladesh, in the future most 
Hindu-Muslim killing will take place in India, where Hindus are in a good position to kill a great 
many Muslims. Of course, the time is near when the quality of Muslim armament will catch up with 
its already large quantity (to divulge a police public-secret tabooed in secularist publications on 
riots), and Muslim "revenge" operations of the Mumbai explosions (12 March 1993) type can 
become a routine affair. Still, in the next few decades the non-Muslim army and police will remain a 
decisive factor blocking the way to a definitive defeat of Hindus by Muslims in India, though they 
may remain unable (mostly because their hands are tied by politicians) to stamp out anti-Hindu and 

anti-Indian terrorism and armed separatism. Given this configuration of forces, I certainly take the 
possibility into account that Hindu militant groups may develop, which will try to setde newly 
arising communal confrontations by means of "direct action", probably starting with the Kashmir- 
type situation which is developing in the northeast. I think it is in Hindu society's interest to avert 
such a development by means of ideological warfare. 

If Hindus want to win the life-and-death stmggle with Islam, they will have to do it in a Hindu, not 
in an Islamic way. Some Hindutva activists quote with approving bluster Veer Savarkar's dictum 
that for every Hindu woman dishonoured by Muslims, a Muslim woman (if not a dozen Muslim 
women) should be given the same treatment; and that such retaliation would quickly teach the 
Muslims to behave. I am told that to this view of Savarkar's, Swami Karpatri, that genuine Hindu 
fundamentalist if ever there was one, has replied that defending Hinduism against Islam makes little 
sense if it means interiorizing Islamic attitudes: "When a dog has bitten you, does it mean that you 
have to bite back?" Perhaps giving tit for tat creates a good feeling at the time of the act, but a 
movement which wants to be the vanguard of Hindu civilization has to aim higher than that. 

The Hindu value of ahimsa, so prominently praised as the "highest dharma" in the Mahabharata, is 
not the same thing as passive masochism, whatever Gandhi may have read into it. Even so, ahimsa 
does imply a restraint on the use of violence. Force is sometimes necessary, as Krishna explains to 
Arjuna, but it should not be resorted to lighdy. Indeed, Krishna and the Pandavas exhaust all 
possibilities of compromise before they resolve to do battle. The use of force may not be altogether 
avoidable in the face of multiple aggressions against India and Hinduism, but to rely on force as a 
matter of long-term strategy to save India from its enemies would be contrary to Hindu ethics. It 
would also be very unwise. 

Pardy due to Gandhi's lingering influence, Hindus tend to overreact to the shiver in their own eye, 
all while justifying or at least ignoring the beam in their enemy's eye. The mass killi ng of Hindus in 
East Bengal in 1971 and the constant petty terrorizing of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh to 
chase them out have not moved Hindus in India to retaliate in any way; they never even talk about 
it. By contrast, a single murder by a Hindu, that of Gandhi himself, was enough to throw the 
Hindutva movement off course for decades. There is no dearth of Hindu soft -brains who feel guilty 
for the Ayodhya demolition, and who preach that Hindus should make amends for it. A large-scale 
killing or forcible expulsion of Muslims will expose Hindu society to the ferocious indignation of 
the Muslim as well as the non-Muslim world, and experience shows that the Hindus have no 
stomach for that. So, apart from being bad publicity, any major act of violence may also help to 
paralyze a Hindu revival. 

Leaving apart the influence of Gandhism, there are also honourable and purely Hindu reasons for 
feeling uncomfortable with violent victories, viz. when violence was a wasteful and unnecessary 
method resorted to out of being too lazy to try more subtle ways. As we shall demonstrate in the 
last chapters, there is an excellent alternative. Gandhi's ahimsa failed because he did not wage the 
ideological struggle (except to some extent against the British, with whom he also succeeded to an 
extent). He could have thrown the Muslim League on the defensive if he had exposed the Islamic 
ideology behind the League's separatism. He refused to do that, and if the Sangh continues to 

follow in his footsteps on this issue, it will meet the same defeat. Whether by Gandhian 
appeasement or occasional bursts of jihad-type violence, the Sangh is bound to lose the stmggle 
against Islam. Its only chance lies in the ideological struggle, the royal highway to Ram Rajya. 

[1] "Hindu-Muslim Tension: Its Cause and Cure", Young India, 29/5/1924; reproduced in M.K. 
Gandhi: The Hindu-Muslim Unity, p.35-36. 

[2] Unlike the day-to-day politicians in the BJP, the more clerical Sangh spokesmen in the VHP do 
use proper Hindi, like hutatma or atmabalidan instead of shahid. Though terminology is not 
important in itself, it is a good indicator of the speaker's level of understanding. 

[3] I assume that if the RSS had accomplished anything during the Hindu flight from Pakistan, it 
would have devoted a publication to celebrating its heroes and martyrs there. 

8. The Sangh’s anti- 

A very serious flaw which Gandhians and the Sangh have in common is their anti-intellectualism. 
Though Gandhi reputedly rebuked RSS founder K.B. Hedgewar for not publishing any doctrinal 
statements, i.e. for not giving any intellectual articulation to his nationalist movement, he essentially 
shared Hedgewar's aversion for an intellectual job well done. Both of them made people march 
many miles, both led their followers to make great sacrifices, and both failed to substantially raise 
their followers' political understanding. They did not bother to educate them (and themselves) in 
analyzing the character of the different forces in the field, all on the plea that "an ounce of practice 
is worth more than a ton of theory". 

Instead of developing an analysis and tracing the Hindu-Muslim conflict to its (Quranic) roots, they 
chose to work on people's emotions. Gandhi practised emotional intimidation on the Hindus with 
his ascetic gimmicks, but failed completely before the doctrinal wall of rejection which Islam had 
erected against his "Hindu-Muslim unity". Gandhi's pleas for this interreligious unity were like the 
attempt at air travel by a pre -modern person: without studying the laws of physics and applying 
them through the appropriate technology, all he could achieve was to jump from a tower and fall to 
his death. Calling for the tearing-down of the wall of hatred between Muslims and non -Muslims 
without properly understanding its causes was an anti-rational endeavour doomed to bitter failure; 
Gandhi merely banged his own head against the wall until his skull broke. 

Gandhi's anti-intellectualism was evident in other fields too. He refused to make a proper study of 
the history and doctrines of his own religion, replacing its complexity and richness with the 
monolatry of a single booklet, the Bhagavad-Gita, which he also refused to study properly, 
subjecting it to a dogmatic sentimental interpretation instead. Thus, Gandhi's reading of the Gita 
(heavily influenced by the "Sermon on the Mount" aspect of Christianity) included the untenable 
claim that the Gita teaches absolute non-violence. In reality, one of the Gita's main themes is 
refuting the typically Gandhian anti-confrontationist arguments given by Arjuna in the first chapter. 

Admittedly, Gandhi was not the first to twist Hindu scripture to suit his own pet theories, e.g. 
Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva managed to identify each his own version of Vedanta philosophy 
as the "true" meaning of the Upanishads. But these acharyas applied their intellect and erudition to 
make their point, while Gandhi haughtily rejected the importance of intellectual skills in discerning 
the true meaning of a text, claiming that moral character was the decisive factor in correcdy 
understanding scripture. He was wrong: people of bad character may understand scripture quite 
well (an example from Hindu tradition is Ravana, a well-educated scoundrel), while people of good 
character may not understand it at all (e.g. all those good people who are outside the civilizational 
ambit of a given scriptural tradition). [1] 

The result of Gandhi's anti-intellectualism was that he conducted his politics like a sleep-walker: 
wilfully blind to the character of the forces he was dealing with. And since people, even very 
ordinary people, cannot be satisfied for long with a diet of exalted emotions and counter - 
commonsensical activism, his refusal to address the doctrinal aspect of certain political problems 
(the Muslim challenge, the paradoxical situation created in Indian politics by World War 2, the 
rising lure of Marxism) made people look for an ideological framework elsewhere. Gandhi's focus 
on emotions was good for spectacular scenes of millions marching, but it failed to achieve the 
political goals which these millions thought they were serving. The independence of a united India 
never came, nor was truncated India in any sense a Ram Rajya or a realization of any ideal Gandhi 
ever stood for. 

The Communists, by contrast, worked on people's minds. They gave them (not just their card- 
carrying foot soldiers but nearly the whole opinion-making and decision-making classes) a 
framework with which to analyze political events and cultural trends. It is quite clear which 
approach was more fruitful: soon after Marxism appeared on the Calcutta scene, it eclipsed the 
Hindu Renaissance (when Sri Aurobindo retired from public life, people like Hedgewar failed to 
take over his torch), and by the time Gandhi died, Gandhism as a genuine political movement had 
been blown away by Marxism. For several decades after Independence, non-Communist politicians 
implemented Communist policies, because they were mentally trapped in Marxist schemes of 
analysis; by contrast, even nominally Gandhian politicians betrayed everything Gandhi ever stood 
for (except Muslim appeasement, which Indian Marxists also promoted). In the long run, emotions 
are inconsequential, and the Communists prospered and could make others implement their own 
policies just by promoting their own thought. 

Like Gandhi, the RSS and BJP cloak many of their campaigns and political demands in terms of 
emotions, and this approach proves as futile as in Gandhi's case. Thus, a complaint about the lack 
of national consciousness in the school curriculum is titled: "The education system does not 
promote national sentiments". [2] Patriotic feelings develop naturally on the basis of a genuinely felt 
common destiny, but in the case of many Muslims, this natural process is thwarted by the Islamic 
ideas in which they are indoctrinated. So, the only way to "promote national sentiments" is a job of 
intellectual persuasion: remove this doctrinal hurdle by helping Muslims to discover that the basic 
doctrine of Islam is mistaken. If you are too lazy to study Islam and find out what is wrong with it, 
all your efforts to "promote national sentiments" among youngsters brought up on a diet of anti- 
Hindu teachings will prove futile. 

The BJP's statements on Ayodhya are full of calls to "respect people's sentiments" (the tide of the 
BJP brochure containing L.K. Advani's historic Lok Sabha speech on Ayodhya dd. 7 August 
1989). [3] In general, sentiments should be respected, but not absolutely. Sometimes, hurting 
sentiments is the inevitable and relatively unimportant consequence of a rightful and necessary act, 
e.g. there is no doubt that imperialist Muslims felt hurt in their sentiments when the BJP supported 
Hindu society's claim to Ayodhya, ignoring the Muslim community's cherished God-given right to 
occupy other religions' sacred places. At any rate, sentiments cannot be the basis of a judicially 
enforceable claim: thieves also develop a sentimental attachment to some of their stolen goods, yet 

that doesn't give them a right to these goods. The Ayatollahs may have been genuinely hurt in their 
sentiments by The Satanic Verses, but that gave them no right to kill its author or even to ban the 
book. Even people who feel no sentimental attachment to the Rama Janmabhoomi site, such as 
myself, can find that the site rightfully belongs to Hindu society alone, on impeccably objective and 
unsentimental grounds. The appeal to sentiment is normally but the last resort of people who have 
failed in defending their case on more serious juridical and historical grounds. 

Gandhi's experiences should have taught the Sangh that emotionalism is powerless. So should its 
own failures with this approach. For seventy years the RSS has been busy inculcating "patriotic 
feelings", and this has not made an iota of difference in preventing the rise of separatism in Panjab, 
Kashmir and the northeast. The result of this approach in the Ayodhya dispute should serve as an 
eye-opener: the appeal to sentiment failed to win a single skeptic or secularist or Muslim over to the 
Hindu position. Spreading knowledge is a far more powerful way of influencing public opinion than 
these impotent attempts to promote certain emotions. Yet the Sangh Parivar has not adapted its 
strategy, it simply repeats a strategy which is a proven failure. That brings us to another typically 
Gandhian flaw in the Sangh: its stubborn refusal to learn from feedback. 

A defining characteristic of all life forms is that, to a greater or lesser extent, they act upon 
feedback: they adapt their behaviour in reaction to its observed effect. If you put your hand in 
boiling water, you feel pain and immediately pull your hand back; by contrast, a stone falling into 
this boiling water does not show the least inclination to pull back. Higher life forms even develop 
feed-forward mechanisms: rather than first undergoing the effects of a certain behaviour before 
adapting it, they are capable of foreseeing its effect and of either aborting or pursuing the intended 
behaviour depending on the expected effect. Once you know enough about boiling water, you can 
foresee the effect of putting your hand into it, and adapt your behaviour accordingly so as to handle 
boiling water without letting it touch your skin. But dead entities do not have these capacities of 
adapting to feed-back or feed-forward information. A glass falling from the table does not foresee 
the effect and does not try to avoid it; even after having fallen to pieces and being glued together 
again, it will still not do anything to avoid falling next time. Dead entities don't learn. 

Going by this criterion, both Gandhi and the Sangh have always been quite dead. In the Khilafat 
movement, Gandhi bent over backwards to please the Muslim leadership, he gave them a blank 
cheque, yet they didn't show any gratitude or sympathy, but rather intensified their anti-national 
commitments and their political separatism. His attempt to achieve Hindu-Muslim unity by means 
of all-out appeasement was a dismal failure. Yet, he kept on repeating the same approach for 
twenty-five years, and even after this had yielded Partition, he still kept on repeating it. There is no 
indication that he ever did any introspection to correct this disastrous policy on the basis of the 
feedback which he was receiving from reality 7 . Once he had embarked on this course, he simply 
continued in the same orbit like any dead object in space subject to the law of inertia. 

Similarly, the Sangh is not learning from its experiences. For example, to reassure its bonafide critics 
(e.g. foreign journalists who are not part of the secularist coterie but have interiorized its 
misinformation for lack of anything better) about the bogey of "Hindu fundamentalism", RSS and 
BJP spokesmen always plead that "a Hindu state cannot be anti-secular, it is a contradiction in 
terms" or that "Hinduism and theocracy cannot co-exist". [4] They have been saying this for decades 

and keep on repeating it quite placidly, but to my knowledge, they have never ever checked whether 
the message actually came across. 

As labels go, it would not be unfair to describe the Arya Samaj as "Veda fundamentalists", or Swami 
Karpatri and the Puri Shankaracharya as "Manuwadi fundamentalists", so India-watchers may have 
a point when they do conceive of the notion of "Hindu fundamentalism". The RSS is certainly not a 
fundamentalist movement, is definitely not working for a Scripture -based law system, but the 
simplistic argumentation usually given, viz. that its being Hindu by itself excludes the possibility of 
fundamentalism, is just not the right one. At any rate, nobody seems ever to have changed his mind 
under the influence of this plea. The worst part of it is not that it fails to convince anyone, but that 
the Hindutva spokesmen have never even bothered to register this fact, much less to draw any 
practical conclusions from it. 

[1] Gandhi's definition that "every good man is a Hindu" is a related example of Gandhi's 
propensity to replace the intellectual subtleties inevitable in a proper definition of something as 
complex as Hinduism with vulgar sentimentalism and simplistic moralism. It also happens to be 
incorrect, e.g. Confucius was a good man but not a Hindu by any definition, while Ravana and 
Duryodhana were Hindus by any definition even though they are remembered as incarnations of 

[2] Organiser, 6/10/1996; emphasis added. 

[3] Remark that the expression avoids the term "Hindu" (in contrast with Respect Hindu 
sentiments, the subtitle of the VHP's "Hindu agenda" issued before the 1996 Lok Sabha election 
campaign). In his The Concept of Hindu Nation (p.2), Abhas Chatterjee relates how a "prominent 
political personage regarded by most people as a champion of Hindu Rashtra" (meaning L.K. 
Advani) prohibited an enthusiastic audience from raising the slogan: "He alone will rule this country 
who stands by the Hindu cause", and wanted the latter expression replaced with "the nation's 

[4] Rama Jois: Supreme Court Judgment on 'Hindutva' (Suruchi Prakashan 1996), p.63. 

9. The Sangh as dinosaur 

The anti-intellectualism of the Sangh Parivar is a sufficiently serious problem to warrant a closer 
discussion. The situation on the ground is that RSS men seldom sit down to do any thinking, but 
are always on the move. As a US-based Hindutva activist told me: "When I make a phone call to an 
RSS office-bearer in India, he will most often not be in the Delhi office, not in Nagpur or another 
town, but somewhere on the way." And the wife of a BJP stalwart told me: "Being on the way from 
one place to another is a status symbol among RSS men." With all this physical locomotion, little 
time and occasion is left for concentrated mental work. 

The Sangh has a basic commitment to India and to Hindu culture, but beyond that, its ideological 
position is hazy and undeveloped, and therefore malleable in the hands of ideologically more 
articulate forces. It has been more influenced by dominant political currents and intellectual 
fashions, often emanating from its declared enemies, than one would expect from an "extremist" 
movement. Like in the Congress and Janata parties, quarrels within the BJP are never about 
ideology. As ex -insider Balraj Madhok writes in a comment on the Gujarat quarrels: "Personal 
differences rather than ideological factors lie at the root of the rifts within the Sangh Parivar." [1] 

To an extent, the BJP has its lack of ideological sophistication in common with all non-Communist 
parties, most of all with Congress. A few recycled old slogans, a picture of its long-dead leaders, 
some material presents for the voter (ad hoc food subsidies, writing off farmers' loans), and there 
you have a complete Congress election campaign. Mutatis mutandis, the same is true for most 
parties. The simple slogans on the outside are not the summary of a profound and complicated 
programme too esoteric to trouble the voters with (as in the case of the Communists). The surface 
is all there is to it, at least as far as ideology is concerned. 

This ideological hollowness is merely the application to politics of a more general superficiality 
afflicting India's public discourse. An example is the politics of Sikh identity: given the Vaishnava 
contents of Sikh scripture and the unmistakable Hindu self-identification by Sikh leaders from Guru 
Nanak through Guru Tegh Bahadur and Maharaja Ranjit Singh down to Master Tara Singh (a co- 
founder of the VHP), the "separate identity" in which radical neo-Sikhs have invested so much, 
including political separatism and a long decade of bloodshed, amounts to nothing more than 
beards, turbans and steel bangles,— pure externality, an insult to the human intellect. [2] 

Sri Aurobindo, the Freedom Fighter and philosopher, already said it: "I believe that the main cause 
of India's weakness is not subjection, nor poverty, nor a lack of spirituality or Dharma, but a 
diminution of thought-power, the spread of ignorance in the motherland of Knowledge. 

Everywhere I see an inability or unwilingness to think — incapacity of thought or 'thought 
phobia'." [3] The great ailment of India today is the decline in thinking power. The crudeness of 
contemporary political thought in India, once the cradle of great pioneers in abstract and social 
sciences, is a sad sight, especially considering that in other fields, such as business and the exact 
sciences, Indians are already recovering their ancient greatness and showing their acumen again. 

To this general atmosphere of intellectual sloppiness, the RSS has contributed its own wilful anti- 
intellectual prejudice. The perception from which Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (RSS supremo 
1925-40) started his RSS project was that Hindu society essentially had everything, even the best of 
everything, certainly also in intellectual culture, and that the only thing it lacked was organization. It 
is debatable whether lack of organization was a factor in the historical defeat of Hindu princes by 
Muslim invaders and British colonizers, but for the interbellum period, this analysis possibly had its 
merits. And so, the RSS put all its eggs in the single basket labelled Hindu sangathan/ "organization" 
(hence its weekly's name Organiser). 

Hedgewar's successor Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (1940-73) despised intellectual pursuits, and 
when he saw RSS people reading books or newspapers, he would ask them if they had "nothing 
useful to do for the Sangh?" When I mention this to RSS activists, they protest that there are many 
doctors, engineers and scientists in the RSS, and some of them recount as their personal experience 
that Golwalkar had encouraged them in their studies. Alright then, let me rephrase my position as 

Golwalkar, who had been trained as a biologist, shared with many people from the exact sciences a 
dismissive incomprehension for the humanities, the disciplines in which critical thinking is 
practised. Secondly, he shared with many spiritual-minded people a skepticism of the power of the 
intellect as compared to that of supposedly deeper layers of consciousness. Thirdly, he shared with 
many activists a distmst of sterile cerebration with its tendency to paralyze people's power to act. 
And fourthly, he shared with many Hindus a disgust with the traitorous role of the Communists, 
intellectuals all of them, in the British suppression of the 1942 Quit India movement and the 
Partition of India. Hence the rhetorical question of many RSS people: "What good was ever done 
by intellectuals?" 

RSS people often tell the story of the Pandit who crosses the river and asks the boatman if he ever 
studied philosophy: "No? Then half your life is wasted!" But when the boat starts to sink, it is the 
boatman's turn: "Panditji, have you studied swimming? No? Then all your life is wasted!" And then 
they have a good laugh, satisfied at having proven how useless intellectual effort is. But fact is: in 
the modern world, the equivalent of "swimming" in the story, the skill necessary to disentangle 
yourself from the impasse and reach the goal, is not the physical locomotion at which RSS officials 
are so good. Among the skills needed for successful social and political action today, we should 
include the art of collecting and analyzing information, and the art of formulating and advertising 
viewpoints. Not the intellectuals, but the RSS itself acts like the pandit in the story who had spurned 
mastering the art of swimming. 

In fairness, it must be conceded that for all its anti-intellectual bias, through its dedicated 
investment in grass-roots work involving enormous personal effort of several millions of people, 
the Sangh Parivar has unmistakably succeeded in establishing an impressive presence among the 
common people. Also, it must be said that some RSS leaders, particularly its new sar-sangh-chalak, 
Prof. Rajendra Singh (1994—, successor of Balasaheb Deoras 1973-94), have understood the folly of 

this anti-intellectual prejudice, and now exhort their workers to do some reading. The newer 
publications are also less shabby-looking and better written than the handful of pamphlets which 
constitutes the whole of RSS literature produced in the first seventy years. In particular, the 
Organiser has definitely gained in informative reliability and intellectual depth under Seshadri 
Chari's editorship. In the margin of Sangh, some local groups have started to process information 
and disseminate ideas, such as the Vigil group in Chennai and the Hindu Vivek Kendra in Mumbai. 
But the consequences of this long-standing policy of mindless activism are bound to mn their 
course for some more years. 

The Sangh's wilful mindlessness reminds me of a Chinese story about a man who equipped himself 
for a journey to the south. He bought the best chariot and horses, hired the best charioteer, and 
went to the imperial highway which crossed the empire in north-south direction. There, he gave 
directions to his charioteer, and off they went. At a stop along the way, someone asked him where 
he was going. "To the south", he said. "But this way you will never get there", said the stranger. The 
man replied: "Come on, how can you say I will not get there? This is the best road in the empire, 
why should it not take me there?" But the stranger said: "You will not get there, because you are 
taking the direction to the north." The man insisted: "But these are the finest horses, and this is a 
brand-new chariot, most certainly they will get me there." The stranger said: "But they will not get 
you to the south if you take this direction." The traveller got tired of all this nit-picking: "My 
charioteer is the best in the empire, so how can you say that he will not get me to my destination? 
Look, this is a sterile discussion, I must be on my way." And off he drove, on the best road, with 
the best equipment, at full speed, yet he never reached his destination. 

Indeed, when you ask RSS office-bearers to evaluate their own performance, they will boast that 
they have such a neat scheme of character-building, such a fine organization, so many well-trained 
and dedicated cadres, such a wide range of activities and front groups. Alright, but where is this 
impressive organizational machinery going? Do they know enough about Hinduism to understand 
why it should be defended in the first place? The standard shakha teachings about "patriotism" may 
fail to teach them much about the specific qualities of Hinduism. Do they know enough about 
Hinduism's enemies to defeat or even simply to recognize them? Without a proper analysis, this 
vast network of shakhas and front organizations is but an army of sleepwalkers. 

I propose to conclude with another metaphor, which came up during a discussion I had with Dina 
Nath Mishra, a journalist close to the RSS: "The RSS is a big dinosaur with a small brain." I don't 
think I misrepresent Mishra's opinion when I say he agreed with this remark. His practical 
conclusion was: the thing to do is not to build up an alternative organization, but to "infuse some 
brain into the dinosaur". 

[1] B. Madhok: "A Question of Power", Indian Express, 29 October 1995. 

[2] The desire to fill up the doctrinal emptiness of non-Hindu neo-Sikhism has led to the superficial 
adoption of British secular or Christian viewpoints (from anti-Brahminism to the Protestant 
doctrinal slogan of "the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of men", quoted by Khushwant Singh 
as the essence of Sikhism) and the redefining of Sikh concepts after an Islamic model, e.g. the ten 

Gums as prophets, the Granth as "revealed scripture", the hukumnama as fatwa, the dharm yuddh 
as jihad. 

[3] Spoken in April 1920; quoted in Abhas Chatterjee: Concept of Hindu Nation, p.67. 

10. Anti-intellectualism in action 

The two most important consequences of the anti-intellectual prejudice animating the Sangh are, 
firstly, an extreme ineptness at public relations, and secondly, the stunted development of the Sangh 
Parivar's own intellectual grip on the world. An example of the first is the staggering failure of the 
Hindu campaign reclaiming Ayodhya to communicate its case to the world, as already discussed. 
The worst part of it is not that the Sangh people failed to communicate the Hindu case (the biased 
press was indeed a formidable obstacle), but that it never took the trouble of verifying whether its 
message came across nor of devising ways to deal with the hostile climate in the media and among 

Another example is riot reporting. Riots, though mostly started by Muslims (e.g. the Mumbai riots 
of December 1992 and of January 1993), are systematically reported in the world media as 
"pogroms" committed by well-prepared and well-armed Hindu death squads against poor 
defenceless Muslims. In journalistic and scholarly references, Advani's peaceful 1 990 Rath Yatra has 
become a proverbially violent "blood yatra". Unlike Asghar Ali Engineer and other riot vultures, the 
Sangh does not bother to write its own reports on riots, in spite of its boast that its cadres are 
omnipresent. Quite often, Sangh-related people tell me interesting and potentially explosive 
background stories about riots (and other controversial matters such as discrimination of Hindus, 
connivance at Bangladeshi infiltration etc.), but when I ask them for exact names, times, places, it 
usually turns out that they have not bothered to record anything: what would have become a 
credible-sounding propaganda story in the hands of A.A. Engineer remains a rumour headed for 
oblivion in the hands of Sangh people. 

The lie about "pogroms" is giving a bad name not only to the organized Hindutva forces, but to 
Hindu society as a whole and to India as well; for that reason, the Sangh Parivar has no right to 
neglect the public relations job inherent in any socio-political movement. Until a decade ago, most 
observers and even enemies of Hinduism were prepared to concede to it a certain harmlessness and 
benevolent tolerance as quintessentially Hindu qualities; today, even that lithe credit has been taken 
away. Hindus used to take great pride in Swami Vivekananda's triumphal speech at the Parliament 
of Religions in 1893, but the celebration of its 100th anniversary in Washington DC was just 
embarrassing because the Ayodhya demolition was generally considered to have disproven 
Vivekananda's description of Hinduism as tolerant. Hinduism is now never discussed without 
mentioning the existence of "Hindu fundamentalism", at best to disclaim this phenomenon as part 
of genuine Hinduism, but more often to prove that Hinduism is just as conducive to fanaticism as 
Islam and Christianity are. The credit for this additional blot on the fair name of Hinduism must go 
to the Sangh Parivar, not because it has taken up Hindu causes like Ayodhya, but because it has 
handled them in such a mindless way. 

We may compare this with the performance of the Bosnian Serbs, as contrasted with that of the 
Bosnian Muslims. Without pronouncing an opinion on the rights and wrongs of the Yugoslav 
conflict, we may notice a few pertinent facts about the strengths and weaknesses of the warring 

parties. The Serb/Yugoslav army started in a very comfortable position, and easily established 
control in up to 73% of the territory; the Muslim separatist government in Sarajevo found itself 
defenceless after hopelessly overplaying its hand by declaring independence, but the Sarajevo 
underworld provided the arms and expertise to save at least the capital and turn it into a base for 
the reconquest of Bosnia. From that point onwards, the bragging drunkards on the Serb side 
squandered their winning position step by step, while the sobre and determined Muslims made the 
most of their limited strength. 

A crucial factor in this war (admittedly more decisive in a small country than in India) was world 
opinion. The Serbs squandered any goodwill they might have enjoyed, along with a lot of their 
ammunition, in useless and ugly-looking actions against civilians and unimportant targets, e.g. by 
bombing the museum city of Dubrovnik in a part of Croatia which they had no intention to 
conquer. The Muslims, by contrast, fully exploited their underdog position in winning international 
sympathy, and also hired the services of two American public-relations firms. We all know the 
results: the American government willingly violated international agreements and its own laws by 
helping Iran in shipping weapons and guerrilla fighters to Bosnia, the CIA trained Bosnian soldiers, 
NATO air power destroyed the Serb frontline, the Bosnian army helped by the Croats reconquered 
one-third of the Serb-held territory, and the Dayton agreement formally restored the political unity 
of Bosnia, definitively refusing recognition to the Republika Srpska, all with the approval of 
remainder-Yugoslavia. The Serbs lost the war exclusively by their mindlessness. 

The most serious consequence of the Sangh's tradition of mindless activism is the second one, the 
lack of a developed intellectual perspective on the Indian and world situations. In their political 
analysis, Hindutva activists often use the categories developed by their enemies, and are the 
prisoners of these categories. E.g., first they let their enemies lay down the norm of secularism, and 
then they try to live up to this norm and prove that they are better secularists than others (hence 
BJP "positive secularism" vs. Nehruvian "pseudo-secularism"). This way, they constantly have to 
betray their own political identity and try to fashion themselves a new ("genuinely secular") identity 
which their enemies have defined but are not willing to concede to them. 

Sadly, this is common Hindu practice in the modern age. Thus, the Christian and Muslim emphasis 
on monotheism and condemnation of polytheism has been interiorized by Hindu reform 
movements even as the latter were trying to counter Christian power in India. Instead of defending 
Hindu polytheism against the missionary vilification of "idolatry", the Brahmo Samaj and Arya 
Samaj movements claimed that monotheism was indeed right and polytheism was indeed wrong, 
but that Hinduism, properly understood, is more monotheist that Christianity and Islam. As the 
historian Shrikant Talageri has remarked, this is as if an Indian were to say: "The colonial racists 
were correct in assuming the superiority of white skins over brown skins, but Indians have whiter 
skins than Europeans." 

Such hopeless exercises in trying to defeat an opponent after first borrowing his thought categories 
and value judgments, are understandable as a result of the inferior position in which Hindu society 
has found itself for centuries, always trying to live up to standards set by their victorious enemies. In 
an inertial hold-over of this psychology, today's Hindutva activists have an inferiority complex and 

value nothing so much as being accepted by respected people, meaning secularists. That is why they 
always offer their platforms to people who despise them, people like Inder Kumar Gujral and 
Khushwant Singh (to name two whom I've seen scheduled as guests of honour at functions of the 
RSS student organization Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad), at the same time spurning staunch 
Hindus who ought to be their allies but who have been ostracized by the secularist establishment. 

This approach is, of course, totally counterproductive, and if the Hindutva strategists had it in them 
to learn from the feedback they get from reality, they would have given it up long ago and opted for 
a bolder profile. That this would be more successful, was briefly illustrated at the height of the 
Ayodhya controversy. Sensing that the public mood was in favour of the Hindu claim to the 
disputed temple site, and more generally of some form of affirmation of India's Hindu identity, the 
secularists temporarily borrowed the categories from their opponents and started preaching 
secularism in the name of Hinduism: "True Hinduism doesn't fuss about mosques", "Rama himself 
would not have approved of this quarrel over his temple", "Swami Vivekananda was a secularist 
too", etc. Suddenly, the tables were turned, Hinduism had become respectable, just because in spite 
of themselves, the Hindu leaders had been bold and defiant for once. 

But the BJP leadership has definitely not learned from this experience. During the 1996 election 
campaign, and during the 13-day tenure of the first-ever BJP Government, A.B. Vajpayee and other 
BJP leaders were crawling before the secularist opinion masters and pleading that they were the 
most secularist of all. It recalls the occasion in 1771 when the Peshwa general Mahadji Scindia, 
militarily the most powerful man in India, prostrated before Moghul emperor Shah Alam whom he 
had rescued from his Pathan rivals, instead of folding up the decrepit Moghul empire and declaring 
Hindu Rashtra. The Hindutva forces, instead of seizing power in their own right and setting up an 
avowedly Hindu dispensation, keep on crawling before people whom the Organiser bravely derides 
as "forces of the past". 

I expect Sangh spokesmen to reject this comparison with the argument that unlike Sindia's, the 
Vajpayee government's power position was severely restricted, as it controlled only a minority in the 
Lok Sabha. Fair enough: in the circumstances, the BJP had to tread carefully, and would have done 
its duty by just remaining in power without rocking the boat, if only to break the hysteria about the 
"threat of Hindu fundamentalism". But the point for now is that a review of past experience would 
have taught Vajpayee that "more secular than thou" posturing had no chance at all of making any 
dent in the secularist hate front against the BJP. Hindu society would accept concessions by a BJP 
government, on condition that there was a realistic promise of obtaining certain real gains in return. 
Only a fool could have believed that crawling before the secularists would yield any, but just any 
reciprocal gesture. They are, after all, spoiled children, and the sight of beggars merely makes them 
laugh. [1] 

[1] Moreover, I cannot accept the explanation frequendy given by BJP men, that the BJP cannot do 
anything until it comes to power at the centre. A party with a distinct ideological identity would 
certainly give at least a foretaste of its future achievements through its parliamentary work and 
through the performance of its state governments; but the record shows (cfr. infra) that the BJP has 

performed as at most a second Congress Party, less corrupt at best, but hardly more alert to 
specifically Hindu concerns. 

11. ?f I am a Hindu communalist” 

A symptom of the ideological power equation is the Sangh Parivar's permanent checkmate in the 
"war of the words". The Sangh is at the mercy of the meanings which its enemies allot to important 
terms, such as "communalism". 

Originally (at least in Indian politics), "communal" was the term by which the British labelled 
political arrangements, such as separate electorates and quota-based recruitment, which took the 
religious community as the operative unit rather than the individual or the family or the region or 
the nation. The term was never hurled at people who rejected these arrangements, but was quite 
sincerely accepted by the people who proposed the "communalization" of the polity: the British and 
the Muslim League advocated it openly, the Congress started defending it after becoming a party to 
it through the Lucknow Pact (1916). When the British proposed the Communal Award, its 
beneficiaries never thought of treating "communal" as a dirty word and throwing it at the 
Communal Award's opponents. Today, by contrast, the mores of discourse have sunk to the level 
where politicians and journalists and scholars systematically apply the term to a movement which 
never used it as a description of its own positions. 

Though Gandhi opposed the extension of the communal principle to the relations between caste 
Hindus and untouchable Hindus, for the rest his whole negotiation policy with the League and the 
British was situated within the framework of communalism. The main opposition to this 
unapologetic communalism came not from the Congress, but from the Hindu Mahasabha with, in 
its shadow, the fledgling Sangh. If you read speeches by HMS leaders in the 1930s and 40s, they 
turn out to be full of unselfconscious attacks on "communal" politics. The Hindutva movement 
was born in the struggle against communalism that was its very raison d'etre. The HMS's stated 
programme was to abolish communalism and make India a secular democracy without separate 
electorates and recruitment by communal quota. Congress, with its bad conscience about its 
complicity in the communalization of the polity, tried to cloud the debate by misapplying the term 
"communal" to the HMS on the analogy of the Muslim League. It falsely posited a symmetry 
between the Muslim League and the Hindu Mahasabha, smuggling out of the public's perception 
the antisymmetry between the League's adherence and the HMS's opposition to the communal 
principle. [1] Very quickly, accurate usage was eclipsed by muddled usage. 

Today, the label "communal" is like a millstone around the Hindutva movement's neck. If the 
Nehruvians who installed and still support a separate Personal Law for Muslims, a "communal" 
arrangement par excellence, can get away with labelling their very opponents "communalists", we 
have to admit that they have proven themselves past masters in the war of the words; it is no use 
opposing them. The Sangh has lost this battle decades ago, but has never mustered the energy and 
the brain power to even face its defeat squarely, much less to think up a way to turn the tables on 
the Nehruvian Newspeak brigade. It merely tries to run away from the label with ridiculous 
disclaimers ("Hindus can never be communal") which themselves presuppose the distorted meaning 
imposed on this innocent word by the Nehruvians. 

The best way out of this impasse is to accept the label and give it a new meaning. And I am not 
proposing yet another distortion to counter the Nehruvian distortion, no, the new meaning should 
simply be the word's true and original meaning. Before the British introduced "communal" 
electorates and "communal" recruiting, the term had an entirely positive meaning. It has to do with 
living together, with mutual support, with transcending petty divisions, with strengthening 
community life, beautiful. [2] The Oxford Dictionary (1986 reprint) defines communal as "of or for 
the or a community, for the common use". It also has an entry communalism, defined as "principle 
of communal organization of society", and calls the Paris Commune a "communalistic government 
in Paris in 1871". Indian journalists going abroad find to their initial disbelief that no one in the 
West or anywhere else ever uses or even understands this swearword "communalist"; if asked for a 
guess, few non-Indians would opine that the word might have a pejorative meaning. The magic 
charm "communalism" which puts the whole Indian political scene in a mood of graveness and 
militancy, and which can paralyze all normal thought processes in BJP circles, is nothing but a 
provincial and distorted usage exclusive to India's English-speaking elite. 

The Sangh people, after having been battered and beaten for decades on the words front, should 
finally accept the challenge and hit back. Instead of swallowing this distorted meaning of the word 
"communal" and trying to prove that it doesn't apply to themselves, they ought to accept the word 
and reject the distortion. They should restore to the word its true meaning and then allot it to those 
who are already stuck with it anyway — themselves. The only way to stop being chased around with 
salvos of "communalists!" is to rename the BJP as Communalist Party. Every Hindu leader should 
make it a point to tell interviewers: "I am a Hindu communalist." Wage the war of the words, and 

[1] This false symmetry is still propagated by the likes of Mani Shankar Aiyar, who once called the 
BJP the "Hindu chapter of the Muslim League". 

[2] Karl Marx tapped from the same source when he associated his own ideology of self- 
righteousness and mass-murder with this string of community-related ideas through the term 
communism. We should redeem the much-abused word family of community by reintroducing it 
through a new derivative with a genuinely positive meaning. 

12. Vulgar nationalism 

A consequence of this lack of self-developed understanding of the forces in the field is that the 
Sangh is not able to discern objective allies and enemies on the world stage, so that it is unable to 
make friends. E.g., after liberalization and globalization became hot items, the Sangh Parivar 
including the BJP has been multiplying and intensifying its attacks on the USA. Time and again, 
Hindutva spokesmen have been presenting the impersonal process of globalization as an American 
ploy to take over the world (just as Westerners once depicted earlier developments in capitalism as 
Jewish conspiracies to dispossess the workers and smallholders). Much of their anti-Americanism 
could have been borrowed quite literally from Leftist pamphlets of yesteryear, some of it also from 
Ayatollah Khomeini's speeches; the only thing missing is the "Great Satan" label. Meanwhile, these 
Hindutva exegetes of the globalization conspiracy have not even bothered to notice that in the USA 
itself, globalization is being criticized both from the Left and the Right. This movement spurns its 
potential friends. 

A similarly misguided exercise consists in blaming first the British and now the Americans for 
Hindu society's problems with Islam. Like the secularists, Hindutva authors systematically 
exaggerate the British role in the Partition of India. The simple truth is that the British merely made 
deals with an Islamic separatism which was very much there before their arrival, and which is 
intrinsic to Islam. We can understand that the secularists refuse to face this fact, but in the case of 
Hindutva spokesmen, this refusal smacks of cowardice. 

Instead of blaming Islam for Pakistani aggression, a whole lot is made of the American arms which 
Pakistan is using during this aggression; as if it is not the Pakistanis themselves who have chosen to 
buy and use these weapons. Instead of focusing on ideological forces, the blame is put on a country; 
in this respect, the creation of Pakistan comes in handy, because instead of blaming Muslim fellow- 
countrymen for riots and bomb attacks and Kashmiri separatism, one can now blame "foreign 
agents". And when Pakistan feels too close for comfort, the blame can be shifted to a more distant 
country, like Britain or the USA. This demonization of a nation may be excusable in wartime fever 
(though it is itself a major cause of wars), but it is definitely below the dignity of a columnist 
commenting on world events from his armchair. Wherever we look in Sangh thinking, we 
constandy run into this reduction of ideological problems to tribal conflicts between "national" and 
"foreign" or "anti-national" forces. What is painfully missing is a keen eye for potentially friendly 
trends across the borders, such as the increasing awareness in US foreign policy circles that India is 
the West's natural ally against the anti-democratic regimes in Asia. [1] 

Equally painful is the absence of any serious understanding about Communism, a key player on the 
Indian and world stages during most of the Sangh's history. Communist critics of Hindutva take it 
for granted that the Sangh is anti-Communist, but a perusal of Sangh publications does not support 
this common belief. Thus, BJP economist Jay Dubashi, though formerly a staunch critic of Soviet 
and Indian Communism, has actually blamed the CIA for the break-up of the Soviet Union, a 
conspiracy theory which is highly unjust to the freedom-loving sections of the former Soviet 

empire's population and incredibly unmindful of the self-inflicted economic breakdown which 
forced the Soviet leaders into perestroika. [2] Any retrospective references to the Korea war, a UNO 
mission to save South Korea from Communist aggression, routinely describe it as a case of 
American aggression. Likewise, references to the Vietnam war ignore the fact that the Americans 
merely intervened in an ongoing intra-Vietnamese war triggered by Communist aggression; it may 
be true that the Americans misunderstood Vietnamese nationalism (a non-Communist factor of 
opposition to the American intervention), but the fact that their motive was the containment of 
Communism should not be overlooked. 

All through the Cold War, the BJS/BJP never once developed a global vision of the Communist 
problem. The only BJP publication on Communism, the 24-page pamphlet The Great Betrayers by 
Krishna Lai Sharma (ca.1988), devoted to a critique of the Indian Communist Parties, merely points 
out the Communists' extra-territorial loyalties and their "misunderstanding" of nationalism. Sharma 
argues convincingly that the Communists do not accept Indian nationhood, and that whenever it 
suits their purposes, they will twist nationalist discourse to promote "Bengali nationhood" or 
"Keralite nationhood". Indian Communists are attacked for being "anti-national", which is a correct 
allegation but hardly the whole story of what is wrong with Communism. 

For anyone who has met victims of Communism, it is simply shocking to read what some 
spokesmen of the (allegedly anti-Communist) Hindutva movement have to say about it. In the 
spring of 1996, after the Cuban Army shot down two airplanes of Miami-based Cubans trying to 
help Cuban boat refugees, and after China fired some shots in the direction of Taiwan in order to 
intimidate the Taiwanese voters, Organiser columnist and former Illustrated Weekly of India editor 
M.V. Kamath wrote the following: "The United States has a unique record of grave errors in the last 
fifty years (...) It tried to prop up Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa and allotted the Chinese Permanent 
Membership in the Security Council to his government. (...) It got into the Korean War and 
sacrificed the lives of thousands of its young men in pursuit of a futile mission to contain 
Communism. (...) The latest example is its support to Cuban terrorists making illegal flights over 
Cuban air space, a brazen example of international lawlessness (...) But nothing fazes the United 
States which seems determined to break any law, commit any crime for its own selfish ends." [3] 

This outburst of crude and obnoxious anti-Americanism calls for some comment. 

The American (in fact UNO) intervention in Korea was not a "futile attempt to contain 
Communism". It was a rescue mission rendered necessary by Stalin's unilateral aggression against 
South Korea, not by any interventionist whim of the USA; and it was relatively successful, in that it 
achieved its stated goal of freeing South Korea and called a temporary halt to Communist 
expansionism. [4] The alternative to saving South Korea would have been what India did to Tibet at 
the very same time: when Mao's troops invaded, India treacherously refused help. Kamath, who is 
hailed as a veteran journalist in the Sangh Parivar did not know or ignored the fact that in 1950 
India had voted for the UN resolution for resisting Communist aggression in Korea and sent a 
medical mission as India’s contribution to the Allied effort. Kamath calls American policy "selfish" 
(ignoring that in the US, interventionism has always been criticized by isolationists who argue that 
their country should be more selfish rather than help other countries out of trouble), but India's 
policy vis-a-vis Communist aggression in Tibet was worse than selfish: rather than helping a friend 

and buffer state, it preferred to damage its own interests by exposing its own borders to Mao's 
armies. At the time, Nehru's despicable China policy was criticized by the Hindutva circles, but it 
seems they have changed their minds. 

Communist expansionism was at its peak, and if the American-led defence of South Korea had not 
cooled Communist cockiness a bit, India would have been the next target (an armed Communist 
uprising had already started in India in 1949). Without the rescue mission to Korea, and more 
generally without the limitations clamped on the Communist powers by NATO vigilance, China 
would not have retreated after its successful invasion of India in 1962, and most RSS men would 
have breathed their last in Mao-cum-Namboodiripad's concentration camps. When China invaded 
India in 1962, Communist expansionism was already hampered by Soviet-Chinese hostility; even 
then, India had to turn to the USA for help. 

The Chinese membership of the Security Council was not "allotted" to Chiang Kai-shek's Republic 
of China (RoC) by whimsical Americans, as Kamath claims; the RoC held that seat by virtue of 
being one of the victorious powers of World War 2 and a founding member of the UNO. As for 
the free Cubans whose unarmed planes were shot down by Cuban Communists in international air 
space when they were searching for boat refugees to help, it is simply disgusting that Kamath calls 
them "terrorists". When RSS spokesmen themselves dole out this label so carelessly, why do they 
complain when the RSS is blacklisted by the ill-informed security forces of some Western countries 
as a "terrorist organization"? 

Kamath ascribes American policies to the "white racist supremacists who make policy in 
Washington". [5] He does not make clear how this profoundly sinister motive explains the 
preference of American officials (some of whom are black) for brown Pakistanis over brown 
Indians. Mr. Kamath's allegations are in no way different from those uttered in petty Leftist 
pamphlets. Those who were under the impression that the RSS counted itself among the anti- 
Communist forces, should realize that without too much exaggeration, RSS’ anti-Communism can 
fairly be described as a notion invented by the Communists themselves. 

How can an otherwise capable intellectual like Mr. Kamath stoop to this vulgar demonization of a 
foreign country? Mindless "patriotism", known to be the refuge of scoundrels, reduces complex 
issues to a question of "national" versus "foreign", rather than analyzing the ideological forces in the 
field. Pretending that problems are essentially non-existent (e.g. Hindu-Muslim hostility), or 
otherwise at least very simple (viz. due to the evil foreign hand): that has become the focus of 
Hindutva casuistry. 

Though the BJS used to support the RoC on Taiwan against Communist China, the state with the 
Laogai slave labour camps, now M.V. Kamath in Organiser supports China's right to take Taiwan 
by force. To him, this is merely a matter of "national unity" and thwarting "American designs" to 
keep China divided, as if he had never heard of the intra-Chinese civil war between opposing 
ideologies which has created the present division of China (the only American crime in this intra- 
Chinese conflict was that at the critical moment, military aid to Chiang Kai-shek's legitimate 
Government was cut off). [6] Kamath's hateful jibes against the RoC are representative of a 

tendency within the BJP which concedes Beijing's right to annex Taiwan, the last toehold of the 
legitimate RoC, by force. [7] Here, the BJP has thrown all considerations of principle overboard, and 
settled for Realpolitik vis-a-vis big China and lithe Taiwan. 

Or rather, it is worse than Realpolitik, it is the product of a grave political aberration. Any 
ideological consideration seems to have been discarded in favour of a monomaniacal concern for 
"national unity": better the whole of China under Communist rule than to allow a foothold to the 
freedom-loving Chinese at the price of a temporary division. The Sangh simply refuses to study the 
problem of Communism except in terms of the Indian Communists' extraterritorial loyalties. This is 
a very crude and narrow-minded type of nationalism. One wonders why the Sangh rejects the 
Jamaat-I-Islami’s offer of a United India under Islam. 

[1] It is a different matter that many Hindutva spokesmen fantasize aloud about a clash of 
civilizations between Islam and the West, in which they expect the West will take care of Islam and 
relieve the Hindus from the burden of facing Islam themselves. 

[2] Jay Dubashi: "We don't need foreigners to destroy us", Organiser, 18/2/1996. 

[3] M.V. Kamath: "A Myopic Policy", Organiser, 14 April 1996; emphasis added. Remark that while 
the US never committed any massacre of Hindus, and while Islam has kill ed millions of Hindus, 
Kamath nor the Organiser have ever used such strong language about Islam. 

[4] As any student of history could tell the BJP "anti-Communists", the only mistake which 
President Truman made, was that he did not allow General Douglas Me Arthur to bomb the bases 
and supply lines of the Chinese "volunteers", in which case the UNO forces might have completed 
their success by securing the liberation of Communist-occupied North Korea. 

[5] M.V. Kamath: "The US threat to India", Organiser, 19 May 1996. One wonders how the so- 
called "angry white males" would feel about this, the people in the US who feel that their federal 
government is, on the contrary, biased against whites. 

[6] M.V. Kamath: "The Question of Taiwan", Organiser, 7 April 1996. 

[7] Though I have not found this confirmed in an official BJP document, this acceptance of 
Communist China's right to annex the Republic of China is also the BJP's position, according to 
two members of the BJP's Foreign Policy Cell. 

13. Hindutva and other peoples’ 

The BJP's subordination of any and every ideological or religious conflict to questions of "national 
unity and integrity", this most mindless form of territorial nationalism, is also a worrying retreat 
from the historical Hindu conception of Indian nationhood and its implications for the evaluation 
of foreign problems of national unity. Along with Mahatma Gandhi and other Freedom Fighters, 
the BJS used to be convinced that India was a self-conscious civilizational unit since several 
thousands of years, strengthened in its realization of unity by the Sanskrit language, the Brahmin 
caste, the pilgrimage cycles which brought pilgrims from every part of India all around the country 
("country" rather than the "Subcontinent" or "South Asia", terms which intrinsically question this 
unity), and other socio-cultural factors of national integration. The notions that India was an 
artificial creation of the British and a "nation in the making", were floated by the British themselves 
and by Jawaharlal Nehm, respectively, and both are obvious cases of unfounded self-flattery. 
Gandhi's and the BJS's viewpoint that India is an ancient nation conscious of its own unity is 
historically more accurate. 

In foreign policy, one can expect two opposite attitudes to follow from these two conceptions of 
India, the Gandhian one which derives India's political unity from a pre-existent cultural unity, and 
the Nehruvian one which denies this cultural unity and sees political unity as a baseless coincidence, 
an artificial creation of external historical forces. In its own self-interest, an artificially created state 
devoid of underlying legitimacy tends to support any and every other state, regardless of whether 
that state is the political embodiment of a popular will or a cultural coherence. The reason is that 
any successful separatism at the expense of a fellow artificial state is a threat to the state's own 
legitimacy. That is, for instance, why the founding member states of the Organization of African 
Unity decided from the outset that the ethnically absurd colonial borders were not to be altered. It 
is also why countries like Great Britain and France, whose own legitimacy within their present 
borders is questioned by their Irish, Corsican and other minorities, were reluctant to give diplomatic 
recognition to Lithuania when it broke away from the Soviet Union. 

By contrast, those who believe that states are merely political instruments in the service of existing 
ethnic or cultural units, accept that state structures and borders are not sacrosanct in themselves, 
and that they may consequently be altered. That is why Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn proposed to allow 
the non-Slavic republics to leave the Soviet Union, and why as a sterling Russian patriot he pleaded 
in favour of Chechen independence from the Russian Federation: it is no use trying to keep Turks 
and Slavs, or Chechens and Russians, under one roof against their will. If Russia is meant to be the 
political expression of the collective will of the Russian people, it is only harmful to include other 
nations by force, as the Chechens and Turkic peoples once were. 

To be sure, even partisans of this concept of "meaningful" (as opposed to arbitrary) states will 

concede that there may be limitations to this project of adjusting state structures and state borders 
to existing ethnic and cultural realities, especially where coherent communities have been ripped 
apart and relocated, as has happened in Russia. Also, cultural and ethnic identities are not static 
givens (e.g. the "Muslim" character of India's principal minority), so we should not oversimplify the 
question to an idyllic picture of a permanent division of the world in states allotted to God-given 
national entities. But at least the general principle can be accepted: states should as much as possible 
be the embodiment of coherent cultural units. That, at any rate, is the Hindu-nationalist 
understanding of the Indian state: as the political embodiment of Hindu civilization. 

Now, what is the position of the BJS/BJP regarding the right of a state to self-preservation as 
against the aspirations of ethnic-cultural communities or nations? The BJS originally had no 
problem supporting separatism in certain specific cases, esp. the liberation of East Turkestan 
(Sinkiang/Xinjiang), Inner Mongolia and Tibet from Chinese rule. At the time, the BJS still adhered 
to the Gandhian position: India should be one independent state because it is one culturally, and so 
should Tibet for the same reason. Meanwhile, however, this plank in its platform has been quiedy 

As A.B. Vajpayee told the Chinese when he was Janata Party Foreign Minister, and as Brijesh 
Mishra, head of the BJP's Foreign Policy Cell, reconfirmed to me (February 1996): India, including 
the BJP, considers Tibet and other ethnic territories in the People's Republic as inalienable parts of 
China. [1] The BJP has decisively shifted towards the Nehruvian position: every state, by virtue of its 
very existence, must be defended against separatist tendencies, no matter how well-founded the 
latter may be in cultural, ethnic or historical respects. That is, for example, why the BJP is not 
supporting Kurdish sovereignty against Iraqi and Turkish imperialism. [2] Along with falling from 
cultural Hindu nationalism to empty secular-territorial nationalism, the BJP has also fallen from 
solidarity with other oppressed and colonized nations to a short-sighted Indocentrism. 

When you ask why the BJP has abandoned its support for the Tibetan freedom movement, the 
standard reply is that this would justify other separatisms, including those in Kashmir and Panjab. 
Exactly the same position is taken by non-BJP politicians and diplomats. But from a Hindu and 
from an Indian nationalist viewpoint, this position does injustice to India's claim on Kashmir and 
Panjab, which should not be put on a par with all other anti-separatism positions in the world. 
Firstly, while Tibet was never a part of China, and while Chechnya was only recently (19th century) 
forcibly annexed to Russia, Kashmir and Panjab have been part of the heartland of Hindu culture 
since at least 5,000 years. Secondly, in contrast with the annexations of Chechnya and Tibet, the 
accession of Punjab (including the nominally independent princedoms in it) and the whole of the 
former princedom of Jammu & Kashmir to the Republic of India were entirely legal, following 
procedures duly agreed upon by the parties concerned. 

Therefore, Indian nationalists are harming their own case by equating Kashmiri separatism with 
independentism in Tibet, which did not accede to China of its own free will and following due 
procedure, and which was not historically a part of China. To equate Kashmir with Tibet or 
Chechnya is to deny the profound historical and cultural Indianness of Kashmir, and to undermine 

India's case against Kashmiri separatism. Here again, we see the harmful effect of the BJP's 
intellectual sloppiness. 

To be fair, we should mention that the party considers its own compromising position on Tibet as 
very clever and statesmanlike: now that it is preparing itself for Government, it is now already 
removing any obstacles in the way of its acceptance by China and the USA (who would both be 
irritated with the "destabilizing" impact of a Government in Delhi which is serious about 
challenging Beijing's annexation of Tibet). In reality, a clever statesman would reason the other way 
around: possibly there is no realistic scope for support to Tibetan independence, but then that can 
be conceded at the negotiation table, in exchange for real Chinese concessions, quid pro quo. [3] If 
you swallow your own hard positions beforehand, you will have nothing left to bargain with when 
you want to extract concessions on the other party's hard positions, i.e., China's territorial claims on 
Ladakh, Sikkim and Amnachal Pradesh, and its support to Burmese claims on the Andaman and 
Nicobar islands. International diplomacy should teach the BJP what it refuses to learn from its 
Indian experiences, viz. that being eager to please your enemies doesn't pay. 

[1] If earlier BJP manifestoes still mentioned Sino-Indian cooperation "with due safeguards for 
Tibet", meaningless enough, the 1996 manifesto does not even mention Tibet. Nor does it 
unambiguously reclaim the China-occupied Indian territories; it vaguely setdes for "resolving] the 
border question in a fair and equitable manner ".(p. 32) 

[2] In October 1996, a handful of BJP men bravely demonstrated before the American Embassy 
against the American retaliation to the Iraqi troops' entry in the Kurdish zone from which it was 
barred by the UNO. There was every reason to demonstrate: while punishing Iraq, the Americans 
allow Turkish aggression against Iraqi Kurdistan, the so-called "protected" zone, and fail to support 
Kurdish independence in deference to Turkey's objections. But that was not the target of the BJP 
protest, which merely opposed any and every threat against the "unity and integrity" of Iraq, a 
totally artificial state with artificial and unjustifiable borders (as Saddam Hussain himself argued 
during the Gulf War, pointing to the artificial British-imposed border between the Mesopotamian 
population centre and the Kuwaiti oil fields). 

[3] This is not to suggest that demanding freedom for Tibet should only be done to have bargaining 
chip, merely to illustrate the principle that concessions, even if unavoidable under the 
circumstances, should still be made known as such, i.e. in exchange for concessions from the other 
party, and not made beforehand in exchange for nothing. But Beijing politics may develop in such a 
way that Tibetan sovereignty becomes a realistic proposition again. 

14. The Sangh’ s Muslims 

In criticizing the Sangh's simplistic anti-Americanism, I am not holding a brief for American foreign 
policy. The Organiser is entirely right in arguing that American officials are being extremely silly 
when they base their policies on the assumption that Pakistan is a bulwark against (rather than of) 
Islamic fundamentalism. But this mistake is hardly typically American: in Organiser itself, 
columnists play the same game of labelling Muslim entities, without asking their consent, as 
bulwarks against Islamic fanaticism. 

Ever since he counselled Muslims to abandon their claim to the Ayodhya site, one Maulana 
Wahiduddin Khan is regularly presented in Organiser as an enlightened alternative to Islamic 
fanaticism. [1] He is also credited with admitting that most riots are started by Muslims. Yet, 
Wahiduddin Khan is an ideologue and leader of the Tabligh movement, the object of which is to 
"purify" Muslim culture of Hindu influence. [2] It is motivated by the same hostility to Hinduism as 
the Muslim League's Pakistan movement was. His endorsement of the Hindu claim on Ayodhya 
springs from the realization that the Muslim campaign for the islamization of the disputed site in 
Ayodhya (in use as a Hindu temple since 1 949) has proven harmful to Muslim interests. Similarly, 
his chastising the Muslims for starting riots can perfectly be explained by the bad image which this 
gives them among Hindus, who are not fooled by the secularist lies about "pogroms", and are kept 
on the alert against Muslims. But the RSS, in its eagerness to find some kind of approval in the 
enemy camp, wilfully ignores the fundamental hostility of a Wahiduddin Khan (and of many others 
whom they welcome on Hindutva platforms), just like the US Government ignores the intense anti- 
Americanism and Islamic mi li tantism in Pakistan. 

Similarly, the enthusiasm in Sangh circles for Ansar Hussain Khan, a second Muslim who actually 
talks with Sangh people and thereby breaks through the cordon sanitaire which the secularists have 
laid around the Hindutva movement (assuring him of intense gratitude in Sangh circles), shows a 
painful lack of viveka/ discrimination. I have nothing against the man personally, and from his 
acclaimed book The Rediscovery of India I get the impression that he is sincerely seeking an exit 
from the Islamic worldview; only, he has not yet freed himself from certain basic attachments to 
things Islamic. [3] I know from experience that outgrowing a closed creed like Christianity or Islam 
is usually done in stages (e.g. there are millions of people in Europe who have rejected their Church 
but not yet Christ), so I will not hold it against him that he hasn't reached the stage of full 
emancipation yet. I also appreciate the courage it must take for a Muslim secularist to write in 
positive terms about the Sangh. But if we limit our evaluation to the actual ideas formulated by 
Ansar Hussein Khan, we find certain things which are just unacceptable. 

First of all, he builds up the well-known argument that the crimes which Islam has committed in 
India are violations of the true spirit and the true law of Islam. This is the great illusion which most 
modern Hindus cherish: the true Islam as conceived by the founder is impeccable, the only problem 
is that some followers misunderstood him, or that purely nominal Muslims with lithe interest in the 
true Quranic message falsely used the label "Islam" as justification for their un-Islamic selfish acts. 

Even among known Hindu critics of Islam, if you scratch the surface, something of that illusion has 
withstood their best scholarly insights. [4] I suggest Hindutva ideologues start to live up to the image 
which the secularists have propagated about them, viz. that they are anti-Islamic. Unfortunately, 
though a good many of them are anti-Muslim at heart, most of them are not anti-Islamic at all. 

The second and most dangerous message in A.H. Khan's book is his plea for undoing the Partition, 
reminding us of similar pleas by K.R. Malkani and other Sangh stalwarts. True, India should not 
have been partitioned, the Hindu masses were right to vote for a party which promised to prevent 
Partition (unfortunately, that party, the Congress, was deliberately fooling the voters), the Hindu 
organizations were right to campaign against it. But history moves in strange ways, and yesterday's 
disaster may be today's blessing. For Hinduism as such, Partition has by now proved to be a 
blessing in disguise, a last chance to survive. When you consider that before Independence, the 
Hindu Congress stalwarts were taken for a ride by the determined Muslim leadership though the 
Muslims represented less than one-fourth of the population and there were practically no Islamic 
states to support them, how would the Hindus fare in a united India in which the Muslims now 
constitute one-third of the population and receive support from rich and well-armed Islamic states? 

The last offers made to Jinnah to make him abandon his Partition plans included 50% reservations 
for Muslims at all levels and an effective predominance of the Muslims in the government. What 
Jinnah gave up by refusing the offer was a Muslim- dominated Akhand Bharat, an unassailable 
country with the highest population in the world, with "Vedanta brain and Muslim body" (freely 
after Vivekananda): Hindu brains to serve the progressively islamicizing regime by building satellites 
and nuclear bombs, and Muslim muscle to push back the Hindu element until it would vanish the 
way it is actually vanishing from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Possibly this would have led to a civil 
war, but it is by no means certain that Hindus would have won. Hindus were just not ready for 
Akhand Bharat, because they were not ready with Islam. 

The present Indian state is already difficult for Hindus to manage; apart from the Demolition 
(responsibility not acknowledged) and a few Supreme Court verdicts (no merit of politicians), the 
Hindutva forces have suffered defeat upon defeat in their struggle with the secularists and Islam, 
essentially because they have never resolved to wage war against the Islamic-cum-secularist forces 
which are already waging an all-out war against Hinduism. They failed to enact an effective ban on 
cow-slaughter, to enact effective curbs on missionary subversion, to integrate Kashmir, to stop the 
1991 Places of Worship Act, to withhold statutory status from the Minorities Commission, to stop 
(let alone reverse) Bangladeshi infiltration. 

In this light, all the Hindutva daydreaming of a pan-Subcontinental federation (whence the cordial 
welcome to A.H. Khan) is profoundly mistaken. It amounts to saying: "Now that we have proven 
ourselves unable to handle small problems, give us big problems to let us handle those." It is no 
coincidence that all Muslim intellectuals now openly deplore Partition: they now realize that Indian 
Islam lost on Partition, and that it is quite capable of taking control of the whole Subcontinent. 

They have given up believing their own lies about the RSS being a formidable fighting force 
threatening the Muslims, they know very well that Hindu society under its present "leadership" is no 
match for determined Islamic gangsterism. They even think that the RSS can serve their ends: 

bringing down the one defence which stands between Islam and the annihilation of Hinduism, viz. 
the Indian state. For all its Muslim appeasement and anti-Hindu discriminations (cfr. infra), the 
Indian state is not aggressively anti-Hindu: the Hindu-born ruling class may sell itself for petro- 
dollars, but it does not organize the kind of oppression which exists in Pakistan. It does not support 
Hinduism, but at least it passively allows Hindu culture to flourish on its own strength. Most 
importantly, the Indian police and armed forces (unlike those in the Akhand Bharat which Jinnah 
spurned) are predominantly Hindu, and they are not passive bystanders when Muslims terrorize 
Hindus, as they are in Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

Partition has been a mistake, from the Islamic viewpoint. The Muslim community has been split 
into three roughly equal parts; Pakistan and Bangladesh are uninspiring backwaters; the Muslims in 
the more promising state of India cannot entirely free themselves of the Partition stigma, and will 
be unable to take power there for at least another half century. It is now clear that from the 
viewpoint of Islamic interests, the pro-Partition Aligarh school was wrong and the anti -Partition 
Deoband school was right: Islam in India should not have settled for a part of the country, but 
should have aimed for control of the whole country. The plan is that Pakistan and Bangladesh 
remain Islamic states, but India should become a joint account. In Bangladesh the idea is very 
popular because it would formalize the de facto permeability of the Indian border for Bangladeshi 

Short, Akhand Bharat is now high on the Islamic agenda, and calculating Muslims are welcoming 
and encouraging RSS romantic daydreaming about reunification. But so far, I have not seen any 
Sangh spokesman pause and wonder why Islamic strategists have suddenly joined them in wanting 
to undo the Partition. They see no reason for suspicion. 

A similar case of unjustified lack of suspicion seems to be moving up on the BJP's and India's 
political agenda: proposals to change the electoral system, including the replacement of the first- 
past-the-post system with a proportional system. This system, which functions well in the 
Netherlands and Israel (and in diluted form in most European countries), would be an unwise 
choice for India, because it would allow Islamist parties to enter the parliaments, not just from 
Muslim-majority districts but from wherever the Muslim vote is worth a seat. This would then force 
secular parties to compete with the Muslim League for the Muslim vote, which they will do by 
promising ever-greater concessions to Islam. The effect will be similar to the creation of separate 
electorates in the pre -independence period. At the time of writing, I am not aware of a definitive 
consensus about this in the BJP, but not of a realization of the danger either. [5] The BJP used to 
support the proportional system which favours smaller parties when it was a small party itself, but 
now that it is a large party, it may avert the danger out of sheer self-interest. 

As for undoing the Partition, it is true that India should ultimately be reunited, but which India? 
What do the Sangh people expect to achieve by undoing Partition without undoing the doctrinal 
conditioning which led to Partition in the first place? Do they prefer an Islamic Akhand Bharat to a 
partitioned India which allows Hinduism to survive in its major part? Have they given any thought 
to the probable outcome of their policies? In their case, that is always the question. 

Unfortunately, Sangh Parivar ideologues labour under the illusion that they can leave Islam intact 
while removing the "anti-national" element from it. Most of them, even including the fairly radical 
former BJS president Balraj Madhok, have suggested that the Islam problem can be solved by 
"indianization": Islam has to "indianize" itself. Or as the Organiser once put it: "Let Muslims look 
upon Ram as their hero and the communal problems will be all over. "[6] Islam, however, is a 
seamless garment, and it cannot be freed from its anti-Hindu doctrine while retaining its Allah and 
Mohammed. Muslims cannot look upon Rama as "their" hero without ceasing to be Muslims. 

The term "indianization" implies that the problem with Islam is its un-Indianness. And this, in turn, 
would imply a nationalistically distorted view of religion: that a nation should only follow native 
traditions and shun foreign contributions in religion. By such standards, the adoption of Hinduism 
or Buddhism by the peoples of East and Southeast Asia would not be a matter of pride (as it seems 
to be for the Sangh) but a violation of the proper world order. The Khmers should have rejected 
Shiva and built their Angkor temple to some native deity; the Balinese should not enact the 
Ramayana but create an epic around a native hero instead. The "holyland" of many East-Asian 
Buddhists is not their own country, but India: the Mahabodhi temple was renovated in the 19th 
century by the king of Burma, and is now surrounded by guest-houses catering to many thousands 
of pilgrims from each Buddhist country every year. Should we deduce that these Thai or Japanese 
pilgrims are being "anti-national" by having such "extra-territorial" religious loyalty? And that the 
Mongolian and Chinese Communists were right to crack down on Buddhism? That would be the 
implication if we start reducing religions to their geographical provenance instead of studying their 
contents. In this case, patriotism is not the refuge of scoundrels, but of duffers. 

This futile attempt to identify the Islam problem in terms of "Indian" vs. "foreign" implies a second 
similarity with certain undesirable xenophobic trends in the West. Semi-literate xenophobic 
ideologues in Europe identify Islam as "a foreign religion, fit for Asiatics but not for Europe". In 
their opinion, there is nothing wrong with Islam, as long as it remains in its country of origin. This 
is not too different from the applause given in Hindutva publications to Anwar Shaykh's thesis that 
"Islam is the Arab national movement". In his book Islam, the Arab National Movement, the 
Pakistan-born apostate author from Cardiff (with a death-warrant fatwa on his head since 1994) 
accurately documents how islamization has meant external arabization (names, clothes, script) for 
most converted populations, but wrongly infers that Islam is a form of Arab nationalism or Arab 

For the Sangh, this thesis was doubly welcome: it recast the Islam problem in the familiar, safely 
secular-sounding terms of nationalism, and it legitimized Islam ("See we're not against Islam?") all 
while limiting its legitimate geographical domain so as to exclude India from it. The implication is 
that Hinduism is Indian nationalism, and Islam is Arab nationalism. This is grossly unjust to the 
Arabs and the native Arab culture which Islam destroyed. There is nothing Arab about Islam, a 
doctrine confabulated by Mohammed from half-digested bits and pieces of Jewish and Christian 
lore, combined with his own extraordinary self-image and the hallucinations registered on his 
sensory nerves (the Quranic voice he "heard"). Except for a small minority of people attracted to 
Mohammed out of gullibility or lust for booty and power, the Arabs were only forced under the 
yoke of Islam after valiantly resisting it. For the sake of comparison, Communism was not the 

"Chinese national movement" just because Chairman Mao's Communists militarily wrested the 
country from the legitimate Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek. The genuine Arab 
national movement was the so-called Ridda ("return" to god-pluralism) uprising against the Islamic 
state after Mohammed's death, in which the Arabs tried to restore their pluralistic culture. [7] 

The review of Anwar Shaykh's work in Organiser was titled "Muslim proud of his Aryan heritage". 
This was, first of all, an untruthful statement. It is true that Anwar Shaykh has rediscovered the 
"Aryan" (i.e. Vedic) heritage which his great-grandfather had abandoned by converting to Islam. [8] 
But the consequence of this rediscovery was precisely the opposite of what the Organiser title 
suggests: he quit Islam, becoming a "non-Muslim proud of his Aryan heritage". Secondly, this title 
sent the wrong message to Indian Muslims. The message which Organiser sought to convey was 
that Indian Muslims should follow Anwar Shaykh's example: remain Muslim all while rediscovering 
their Aryan heritage (or with an older term, "indianizing" themselves). This was a replay of the 
Gandhian myth of the "nationalist Muslim" for whom Islam and Indianness are not 
incompatible. [9] But the case of Anwar Shaykh proved just the opposite: by rediscovering his 
Hindu heritage, a Muslim loses his Muslim identity. Islamic fanatics are wholly aware of this 
phenomenon, which is why they try to nip it in the bud, e.g. by forbidding Hindu religious music on 
Pakistani radio. The message of the Organiser should have been: "Indian Muslims, follow Anwar 
Shaykh's example, rediscover your Vedic heritage, and abandon Islam." 

A similar case is that of BJP office-bearer Sikander Bakht. Mr. Bakht is a thorough gentleman, but 
his main value for the BJP is that he is a born Muslim. He is often shown off as the party's token 
Muslim, but just as often, angry Muslims write letters to the editor to explain that Mr. Bakht is not a 
Muslim at all. They say that he actually converted to Hinduism on the occasion of his marriage to a 
Hindu lady, and that his children were raised as Hindus. Now, when I am to choose between the 
BJP version and the Muslim version, I tend to attribute more credibility to the latter. If it is true that 
Mr. Bakht is a convert, I certainly applaud the BJP policy of giving due prominence to him. Only, 
they should have the sincerity and the wisdom to add the correct message, which is not: "We have 
Muslims as well", but: "We welcome Indian Muslims seeking the way out of Islam back into their 
ancestral culture." 

[1] Cfr. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan: Indian Muslims. The Need for a Positive Outlook (Al-Risala 
Books, Delhi 1994), p.109-130. Within the limitations of the Muslim outlook, this is nonetheless a 
lucid and well-intended book. 

[2] Cfr. Maulana Wahiduddin Khan: Tabligh Movement, Islamic Centre, Delhi 1986. 

[3] Ansar Hussein Khan: The Rediscovery of India. A New Subcontinent, Orient Longman, Delhi 
1995. The book is well-written; particularly pleasant to read is the candid deconstruction of the 
entire Congress version of the Freedom Struggle and the Partition machinations, which cuts secular 
icon Jawaharlal Nehru to size. The book also contains in appendix the correspondence between 
Khan and the BJP leadership. 

[4] E.g., in 1993 a leading historian signed a petition against Syed Shahabuddin's attempt to get Ram 
Swarup's book Hindu View of Christianity and Islam banned, but not after suggesting a change in 

the text: instead of the phrase which refuses to Shahabuddin the role of "conscience-keeper of the 
nation", he wanted to put "conscience-keeper of Islam". The implication was that Islam is alright, 
but that Shahabuddin distorts Islam. 

[5] In its 1996 Election Manifesto (p.ll), the BJP promises to "examine the feasibility of 
introducing the list system", which would imply multi-seat constituencies giving a more 
proportional representation to smaller parties. Incidentally, political experience in Belgium and 
other countries using a list system shows that it strengthen the control of the parties over the 
candidates, which may (as Euroskeptic defenders of the British first-past-the-post system righdy 
argue) be questionable from the viewpoint of democracy. 

[6] Organiser, 20/ 6/1971, quoted in Tapan Basu et al.: Khaki Shorts, Saffron Flags, p.12. 

[7] Even A. A. Engineer (The Origin and Development of Islam, Orient Longman, Delhi 1987, 2nd 
ed., p.131) admits that "the war of ridda (apostasy) was a general insurrection throughout Arabia". 

[8] The story is told in Anwar Shaykh: Eternity (Principality Publishers, Cardiff 1 990) and in various 
issues of his quarterly Liberty. 

[9] Of course, it can and does happen that an Indian Muslim has genuine patriotic feelings, but this 
is necessarily in spite and at the detriment of his commitment to Islam. Many Indian Muslims are 
not "Pakistani patriots", firstly because Pakistan is mistreating their own Mohajir cousins, and 
secondly because Pakistan is a failure in every secular respect except terrorism. Their dream of an 
Indian-Muslim state is no match for the reality that unlike Pakistan, India is a country to be proud 
of. In that sense, I am willing to accept the self-description of people like M.J. Akbar as "nationalist 
Muslims". But they remain stuck with a problem of divided loyalties, and part of the reason why 
they have accepted their Indianness is that the present Republic is in many ways an incarnation of 
their second (Islamic) loyalty as well: a pro-Muslim regime dedicated to weakening Hinduism. 

15. A party of shopkeepers 

The BJP eagerly wants to be friends with everyone who counts as respectable. The best predictor of 
their positions in upcoming political issues is: what will the opinion-making establishment say? 
When new fads appear on the public scene, whether it is the Ambedkar cult or reservations for 
women in Parliament, the BJP is sure to pick them up in due course. [1] Instead of radicalism, the 
record of its manifestoes, resolutions, interventions in parliament, and public statements, shows a 
goody-goody approach to all the forces which are animated by a declared and unyielding hatred of 
the BJP. This may have something to do with the party's castewise roots. 

It is often alleged that the BJP is an upper-caste party out to preserve the privileges of the upper 
castes. The grain of truth in this is that the BJP, like the Congress and the Communist Party, was 
founded by Brahmins. But like these other parties, it goes along with the general shift from upper to 
middle and lower castes as the most numerous actors on the political scene. Significandy, the 
radicalization of the party during the period of intensified Hindu-Muslim confrontation over the 
Ayodhya temple -mosque dispute was led by lower-caste BJP leaders like Uma Bharati, Yinay 
Katiyar and Kalyan Singh (BJP Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1991-92, politically responsible 
for the demolition of the Babri Masjid). 

Still, the BJP is often called a "party of Brahmins and Banias", and its political style justifies this 
label to an extent. While Brahmins provide the Sanskritic (transregional, culture-centred) outlook, it 
is the Bania merchants whose influence seems predominant in shaping the image and the 
psychology of the party. [2] When a Leftist commentator tries to explain BJP policy decisions, he 
usually blames the economic achievements and problems of the "urban traders" who seek to build 
themselves a cultural identity and use the BJP to that end. It is even said that they, as aspiring 
capitalists, use the RSS-BJP to reform Hinduism into a monolithic "Semitic" religion, supposedly 
more fit as a cultural framework for capitalist development. [3] 

The grain of truth in this Marxist reduction of the BJP programme to a mercantile strategy is that at 
least psychologically, the BJP can best be understood as "a party of shopkeepers". The BJP is not 
the party of the rich, who always tend to be on the side of power, i.e., the anti-BJP establishment (as 
is evident from the media they own, and which are either mildly or virulently anti-BJP). But in large 
measure the BJP has become the party of the aspiring middle and lower middle classes. Partly this is 
because the last ten years or so, it had profiled itself as the least socialist and most pro- 
entrepreneurial party. For the truly big business houses, this wasn't that important, because they had 
established their own arrangements with the corrupt Nehruvian state; the stifling effect of 
Nehruvian socialism was felt most acutely by smaller and newly-started businesses. To an even 
larger extent, the success of the BJP is due to its promise of stopping the disintegration of India and 
maintaining stability, a prerequisite for economic progress. 

After its 1996 failure to win a confidence vote for its 13-day government, the BJP has accepted that 
its only chance lies in gaining an absolute majority. Fortunately for the party, few Hindutva-minded 

voters are fully informed about the week-kneed positions taken by its inner circle; most go by its 
general Hindu image, and by the allegations of Hindu extremism spread by its opponents. On the 
other hand, BJP strategists have a point when they calculate that many middle-of-the-road voters 
need the assurance of moderation given by leaders like Vajpayee before they can cross the threshold 
to voting for the BJP. In the heart of the mainstream Hindu voter, the combative Hindu feeling 
goes underground as long as it is not provoked, and the moderate shopkeeper-type predominates, 
so that in peace time (as in May 1996), he does not mind a shopkeeper mentality in the party he'll 
vote for. But the relative quietness on the communal front may not last, and in troubled regions, 
Hindus tend to set up more radical organizations, modelled on (and often named after) Mumbai's 
Shiv Sena. The BJP had best prepare a contingency plan for the inevitable next round of 
confrontation, or it will be pushed aside once more by impatient youngsters as it was on 6 
December 1992. 

The signature of the trader mentality is visible in the entire BJP approach to politics. Good traders 
treat trade as a win-win situation: the seller makes a profit, the buyer acquires a desired product, 
both making gains without forcing losses on their trading-partners. In humdrum peace time, of 
course, this is the right attitude to politics. But in times of serious political confrontation, they have 
difficulty in understanding that achieving one's own goal implies inflicting defeat on a second party. 
Shopkeepers try to curry favour with everyone, and avoid straightforward ("divisive") ideological 
stances and debates in order not to alienate potential business partners. Their idea of combativeness 
is to outwit buyers and competitors; they fancy they can catch a much-desired prize on the cheap, 
without confrontation. 

This mentality was conspicuous during the Ayodhya affair, when the BJP fostered the illusion that 
Hindu gain could be gotten without Muslim loss, that Muslims could be talked into abandoning 
their claim to the disputed site, that confrontation was avoidable. The BJP was formally right, in 
that the disputed building was no longer a mosque as idols had been worshipped in there since 
1949. But in real terms, the Muslim leadership certainly felt deprived of something very important: 
the Quran-based right to trample on non-Muslims, e.g. by usurping their sacred sites. Even though 
the BJP's White Paper on Ayodhya and the Rama Temple Movement (1993) is a well- written and 
generally complete document, certainly the best chronology of the whole Ayodhya dispute, it leaves 
out a discussion of the one historical fact that justifies and lends importance to the Ayodhya 
movement, viz. that the demolition of the medieval Rama temple at the site was by no means an 
isolated event, but a necessary consequence of Islamic doctrine. 

Not to antagonize Muslim and secularist opinion, the BJP avoided going into the question why the 
Rama temple in Ayodhya, along with thousands of others, had been demolished by Muslim invaders 
and rulers,— a question pregnant with doctrinal confrontation between idolatrous Hinduism and 
iconoclastic Islam. Or rather, it gave a pseudo-explanation in terms of "foreign invaders" and 
"national humiliation", hoping to trick the Indian Muslims into affirming that they too are part of 
the Indian nation (as they always imply when they reject any identification of India with Hinduism) 
and therefore feel equally strongly about the "national honour" embodied in the Rama temple-to- 

So far, so good: if they could resolve the controversy with superficial and syrupy rhetoric, without 
raking up old history, that might have been defensible. But the point is that, first of all, this 
accommodating attitude was not rewarded or even acknowledged in any way by the secularists (who 
falsely maintained that the BJP was attacking Islam), and secondly, the BJP spokesmen did rake up 
old history, though not in the anti-Islamic sense alleged by their enemies. When BJP spokesmen 
mentioned history in the Ayodhya context, it was mostly to deny a fact inconvenient to their 
opponents (whom they were trying to get into a positive mood), viz. the fact that iconoclasm and 
intolerance are intrinsic elements of Islamic doctrine, and not aberrations from it. [4] 

Sangh Parivar spokesmen have claimed that far from encouraging the annihilation of idol cults, 
Islam actually prohibits the demolition of idol temples, and that the Prophet Mohammed had a 
mosque demolished when he found that it had been built in forcible replacement of a temple. This 
was a convenient fiction: the Islamic temple demolishers in India and elsewhere had always done 
their thing with full backing from competent religious authorities, because Mohammed himself had 
all non-Islamic places of worship in Arabia either demolished or turned into mosques, and his 
model behaviour has an unfailing force of precedent in Islamic law. These facts are in conflict with 
the alluring BJP plea that nothing in Islam prohibits the Muslims from accepting the conversion of 
a mosque into an idol-house. The BJP shopkeepers calculated that a white lie might make the 
desired Muslim abandonment of any claim to the Ayodhya site cheaper in terms of blood and sweat 
expended. Of course, the Muslim leaders were not fooled into believing that Islam allows the 
replacement of a mosque with an idol-house. 

People who try to deceive others, thinking they are very clever, usually end up deceiving only 
themselves and being disbelieved by others even when they do speak the truth. The BJP is not 
convincing anyone when it claims that its prime concern in the Common Civil Code issue is the 
well-being of Muslim women, or when it claims that it has no problems with Islam and Christianity 
as such, or when it pleads that "genuine Islam" exhorts Muslims to abandon the Ayodhya mosque. 
These positions fail to mollify the adversary, but they are very effective in confusing the BJP rank 
and file, Hindu militants at heart but forced to defend secularist positions as a matter of party-line. 

[1] In a TV debate on caste issues (ca. 1995), Ram Vilas Paswan attacked Dronacharya, the teacher 
of the Pandavas, for refusing to teach the tribal boy Ekalavya. The reply to this could have been 
that Drona's decision had nothing to do with caste considerations: he simply did the job he was 
paid for, viz. to make the Pandavas the best archers in the land, not to teach his skills to any others 
whatever their caste. Instead, VHP spokesman Giriraj Kishore disowned Drona, saying that "we do 
not recognize him as an acharya". This way, Hindutva leaders disown everything which the 
secularists attack. 

[2] A long chapter could be written about the role of caste history and caste psychology as 
determinants of politics in India. One example: in the British and post-colonial periods, the position 
of the Thakur (landlord) steadily deteriorited, while that of the Bania changed for the better: he 
became a modern entrepreneur, taking full advantage of modernization and urbanization. The envy 
of successful Banias felt by impoverished Thakurs and Rajas is certainly one of the reasons why the 
latter are so attracted to socialist-populist parties like the Janata Dal, typical examples being the 

former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and V.P. Singh. 

[3] This is argued in all seriousness by Romila Thapar (in S. Gopal, ed.: Anatomy of a 
Confrontation, p.159) and parroted by numerous columnists. 

[4] At this point, there is a difference between the BJP, which tried to be as superficial about the 
basic issue as possible, and the VHP, which developed a sharper position after accepting Chandra 
Shekhar's invitation to mandate scholars to discuss the historical evidence concerning the disputed 
site with a Babri Masjid Action Committee delegation (which withdrew from the talks when it 
found it had no chance of winning). However, even in VHP ranks it is not uncommon to hear 
preachers praise Mohammed and abuse Muslims for "misunderstanding" the Quran's true message. 

16. Things to do for the BJP 

The cleverness of the BJP is in evidence again in its choice to put the enactment of a Common Civil 
Code on India's political agenda. In India, marriage, divorce and inheritance are regulated by 
religion-based law codes which are different for Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Parsis. Thus, a 
Hindu who wants to marry two women, knows that he will be punishable, but no longer if he 
converts to Islam (which is why there are actual cases of conversion for the sake of bigamy). For 
Christian men and women, divorce laws are equal but make it very difficult to obtain a divorce. For 
Hindus, it is a bit easier, but divorce is the easiest by far for Muslim men, who only have to 
pronounce triple talaq; Muslim women, by contrast, have to plead their case before a judge. This 
totally non-secular arrangement was meant to be only temporary, for the Constitution stipulates in 
its directive principles (Art. 44) that the State shall endeavour to enact a Common Civil Code. In 
1995, the Supreme Court reminded the Government of this directive principle, and directed it to 
report on the progress made in the matter. The BJP has replaced Ayodhya with the Common Civil 
Code as its central "communal" theme. 

The BJS-BJP has always demanded the implementation of Art.44, but the majority has blocked this 
secular policy time and again. The cleverness about this Common Civil Code demand is that it can 
be used both as proof of the BJP's secularism and as proof of the BJP's Hindu credibility. Many 
Hindutva-minded voters mistakenly believe that the Muslims' high birth rate is due to polygamy, 
and hope that a Common Civil Code will remedy this problem and thereby save the majority 
position and hence the survival of Hinduism in India. Yet, in my opinion a realistic evaluation 
would be that this issue is of little importance to specific Hindu interests. In a way, the Plural Civil 
Code is more in keeping with Hindu tradition, where every caste had its own distinctive marriage 
and inheritance customs. The Common Civil Code is not a demand of Hindu society (certainly not 
a priority), but is intrinsically a demand of secularism. 

There are excellent reasons for replacing the Muslim right to unilateral talaq with an egalitarian 
arrangement valid for all Indian citizens equally, but it is doubtful that this desirable goal will be 
reached by means of a BJP initiative. The trouble of raising this impeccably secular and explicidy 
constitutional demand should be left to the secularists; as long as they don't put it on the agenda, 
the present religion-based personal law systems are a standing testimony to the hypocrisy of the 
secularist establishment. Equality before the law regardless of religion is an essential requirement of 
a secular state, and it is a measure of the perversion of India's political parlance that BJP opponents 
actually defend the separate religion-based civil codes in the name of secularism. But there is one 
serious problem with this demand: with extremely few exceptions, and with secularist support, the 
Muslim community 7 opposes it tooth and nail. 

In a futile bid to win the Muslims over, the BJP claims that there is nothing un-Islamic about 
abolishing the Sharia provisions on family matters, esp. by citing Muslim modernists like Malaysian 
Prime Minister Mahathir as saying that the Sharia is obsolete, and by documenting how the Sharia 
was only imposed on the Indian Muslims late in the British period, in replacement of the customary 

laws which many Muslim communities had preserved since the time of their conversion. Less than a 
century ago, the majority of the Indian Muslims did not follow the Sharia, true, but this only means 
that they were bad or incomplete Muslims, not that Islam doesn't care about which personal law 
system its faithful follow. Muslim tyrants and propagandists who converted Hindus did "first things 
first": the converts had to be brought into the Muslim fold and develop an attachment to 
Mohammed and the Quran; whether they also adapted their marriage and inheritance customs to 
Islamic prescriptions (often a revolutionary change in their communal life) was a question that 
could be put off till a more convenient time. While non-conformity with the Sharia can be tolerated 
as an intermediate stage in the islamization of a community, it is obvious that once the Sharia is 
established, it is un-Islamic to abolish it. 

While the BJP congratulates itself on being so clever in insisting on an impeccably secular demand 
like the Common Civil Code, it does not seem to be aware that, like with the Ayodhya campaign, it 
is merely banging its head against the wall and making itself despised and hated. The most realistic 
prediction is that an effective abolition of the religion-based personal law systems by a future BJP 
government would provoke potentially violent agitations in every Muslim neighbourhood in India, 
as well as attacks on Indian and Hindu targets in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Great Britain and other 
countries. After all, the Ayodhya dispute was a fairly artificial conflict, in which the common 
Muslim had no stake (it is a Hindu, not a Muslim sacred site, and no ordinary Muslim had any plans 
ever to visit Ayodhya), and still it provoked a major wave of violence; but a change in the rules for 
marriage, divorce and inheritance affects every single Muslim personally. 

A secular Common Civil Code would also diminish the power of Muslim clerics within their own 
community greatly. If we remember that the Shah of Iran turned a simmering discontent into an 
armed revolution the day he hurt the material interests of the clerical class, we can imagine that in 
India too, the mullahs would organize a massive resistance against such an attack on their position. 
The Hindus would again be blackened worldwide as mean oppressors of the poor hapless 
minorities, and the BJP's own government would find it hard to stay on course. There are no 
indications that the BJP has a contingency plan for such a nation-wide Muslim agitation. 

The BJP's focus on the sensitive Common Civil Code issue is all the more strange when we 
consider that there are other, far safer and far more consequential issues waiting to be raised, which 
have a potential for mobilizing the Hindus without automatically provoking the minorities. When 
Sangh leaders are questioned on what grievances the Hindus could possibly have in a democratic 
state with a Hindu majority, they often mention Art.30 of the Constitution, which lays down that 
the minorities can set up government-sponsored denominational schools (implying the right to a 
communal bias in recruitment of teachers and students and a religion-centred curriculum). When 
the Constitutional Assembly voted this article, many delegates probably assumed that the extension 
of the same rights to the Hindu majority was self-understood; but in practice, this right is denied to 
the Hindus. This became hilariously clear in the 1980s, when the Ramakrishna Mission deemed it 
necessary to declare itself a non-Hindu minority (a self-definition challenged in court by its own 
members and struck down) in order to prevent the West Bengal government from nationalizing its 
schools. [1] Art.30 constitutes a very serious discrimination on grounds of religion, and is in conflict 
with the professed secular character of the Indian Republic. 

In no democratic country would a majority community tolerate such discrimination, and it says a lot 
about the stranglehold which the secularist intelligentsia has on public discourse that this article 
hardly ever figures in debates on secularism and communalism. It also says a lot about the meekness 
of the Hindus in general and about the incompetence of the Hindutva movement in particular. 
Amending Art. 30 to extend the privileges of the minorities to every community including the 
Hindus would benefit Hindu society as a whole, would terminate a humiliating and damaging 
inequality, but would not affect the minorities; they retain the rights conceded to them in the 
present version of Art.30. No doubt some minority and secularist agitators will try to explain that 
equality before the law constitutes oppression of the minorities, but it should be feasible to restate 
the correct position in such a way as to convince most unbiased observers. [2] At any rate, the 
Muslim and Christian masses would not feel affected the way they would be in case of the 
enactment of a Common Civil Code, and that makes the issue much easier to handle. So easy that 
even the BJP could do it. 

So, from the Hindutva movement's viewpoint, this should be a beautiful campaign theme: it is a 
very consequential issue, it is very representative of the discrimination which Hindus claim to suffer 
in secular India (and thereby justifies to the outside world why there has to be a Hindu movement 
in the first place), the amendment is impeccably secular, and best of all: it is not directed against 
anyone, it is a revolution with no enemies. If the BJP had any political acumen, it would have taken 
a parliamentary initiative to amend Art.30, or prominently raised the issue in some other way, in the 
months before the 1996 Lok Sabha elections. This would have forced the other parties to either 
come out in support of the equality principle, so that the BJP could claim a major victory for Hindu 
interests; or to defend the existing inequality, and in that case the BJP could go to the voter (and to 
world opinion) with the unambiguous proof that it is not the BJP but the other parties which stand 
for religious discrimination and injustice. 

In spite of all the benefits which such an amendment would have for Hindu society as well as for 
the BJP, no attempt was made in that direction. The 1996 BJP Election Manifesto does not 
mention Art.30 in the list of "Constitutional reforms" proposed on p.9-10. The article is mentioned 
only on p.64 in a two-line promise, fifth in a list of fourteen points under the heading "Our 
minorities": "5. Ensure equality for all and discrimination against none on grounds of religion in 
matters of education by amending Article 30." Note that the BJP does not find the issue sufficiendy 
important for spelling out just what amendment it proposes. The record shows that the BJS/BJP 
parliamentarians (including India's longest-serving parliamentarian, A.B. Vajpayee) have never taken 
any initiative on this matter. No politician with whom I have spoken could give a credible 
explanation for this decades-long negligence. 

The VHP included the demand of an amendment to Art.30 in its Hindu Agenda (a list of 40 
demands presented to all political parties, drawn up during the VHP National Board meeting in 
Mumbai in December 1995, which I attended), but not with due prominence. A leading VHP sadhu 
explained to me that he and his colleagues had found the temple issue (liberation of the sacred sites 
in Kashi and Mathura) to be the best mobilizer among the masses, while issues like Art.30 attracted 
little attention among the people. My suspicion is that he neither questioned nor informed common 
people about Art.30, and that his finding was perfectly circular: if you only think and talk about the 

disputed temples, it is obvious that this is what people will respond to. The Hindutva activists 
attribute to the people their own narrow focus on symbolic but inconsequential issues. When you 
see how the small Christian community can lobby and mobilize for its "Reservations for Dalit 
Christians" demand, the claimed difficulty in mobilizing Hindus against their second-class status in 
education sounds like sheer laziness. At any rate, leaders don't ask the masses for motivation, they 

Among BJP spokesmen, it was only Rama Jois, the lawyer representing the BJP before the Supreme 
Court in connection with the Ayodhya dispute (1993-94), who agreed with conviction that the BJP 
should take up the issue and showed that he had even given some thought to the formulation of the 
required amendment. [3] The only Member of Parliament who has formally proposed an 
amendment to Art.30, extending minority privileges to the majority, is Syed Shahabuddin (April 
1995). His ostensible reason was that every linguistic or religious community 7 which is in a minority 
at some level, is bound to also be the majority at some other level (say, national versus provincial or 
local). His Bill never made it to the voting stage, but it showed how Shahabuddin is aware of the 
mobilizing potential of the Art.30 issue: he tried to defuse it before the BJP could acquire the brains 
to perceive and exploit this potential. 

If anti-Hindu leaders like Shahabuddin can see the importance of this issue, how come the BJP 
leadership is ignoring it? Is it sheer brain paralysis, as Hindu critics of the BJP allege, that the BJP 
spurns manageable and important issues in favour of unmanageable and unimportant ones? In this 
case, I really don't know even the beginning of an explanation. It is typical of Sangh mores to put 
on a clever face and pretend there is a secret long-term strategy which will take care of everything, 
but I am skeptical. 

Article 30 is the Constitutional bedrock of a considerable list of similar anti-Hindu 
discriminations. [4] Among them is the unequal treatment of Hindu and non-Hindu places of 
worship. Muslims have full control of their mosques, Christians have full control of their churches, 
but Hindus are systematically deprived of the control of their temples. Recendy the authorities tried 
(unsuccessfully) to have the Shirdi Sai Baba temple in Hyderabad declared a Hindu temple, because 
that would allow them to take it over and do what they have been doing everywhere to Hindu 
temples: siphon the income off to their own pockets or to other non-Hindu purposes. This is a 
major factor in the dire poverty which Hindu temple priests (whose wages have not been adjusted 
for decades) and their families suffer. 

Injustice to Hindus in education and temple management: here are two problems with deep and 
painful effects on the life and the future of Hinduism, and what is the BJP doing? If the BJP does 
not take up these issues, if it does not present a short-term plan to remedy this injustice, if its state 
governments do not do everything within their power to give at least partial solutions to these 
problems with immediate effect, then the party does not deserve to get a single Hindu vote. 

[1] The attempts of the RK Mission and of an Arya Samaj faction to get recognition as a religious 
minority prove several things: that Hinduism is a dirty 7 word and many Hindus are ashamed to be 
called Hindu; but also that Hindus under threat do not count on the BJP to defend them, and 

prefer the safety exit to minority status. 

[2] I remember M.J. Akbar arguing to this effect against any tampering with Art.30, on the 
assumption that this would mean bringing the position of the minorities down to that of the 
Hindus, rather than adjusting the Hindu position upward. Among foreign India -watchers too, the 
impression exists that the BJP would take away these rights from the minorities rather than extend 
them to the Hindus; this may be due to disinformation by the M.J. Akbars of this world, but 
unfortunately, it cannot be excluded that some Hindutva spokesman has indeed been stupid enough 
to interpret "amending Article 30" in this sense, unmindful of the terrific agitation which this would 
provoke among the minorities. 

[3] Interview, December 1995, Vadodara. Jois's comment on the Supreme Court verdict (rejecting a 
request by the Narasimha Rao government to pass judgment on the historical question whether the 
Babri mosque had indeed been built in forcible replacement of a Hindu temple) is in Swapan 
Dasgupta et al.: The Ayodhya Reference (Voice of India 1995), p.96-106. 

[4] Discussed in Abhas Chatterjee: The Concept of Hindu State, p.33-44. 

17. Christ in India 

The Sangh is even less combative vis-a-vis Christianity than vis-a-vis Islam. The Christian Churches 
must be counted among Hindutva's most determined enemies. Much of the negative image which 
the BJP has acquired internationally is due to the lasting powerful impact of the Churches on the 
information stream concerning the Third World. In quarrels between the Hindutva forces and the 
Muslims or the secularists, the Christian institutions are invariably on the anti-Hindu side. There are 
also Christian armed separatist movements in Nagaland and Mizoram, which are openly supported 
by the World Council of Churches and by a number of Catholic institutions. 

Some Hindu writers have therefore developed detailed criticisms of Christian political behaviour in 
India, detailing records of conversion, and discussing the missions' international] This 
line of argument is also developed in books formally published by the Sangh Parivar itself through 
its "think-tank", the Deendayal Research Institute, most notably Devendra Swarup, ed.: Politics of 
Conversion (1986). A more fundamental critique of Christianity itself, regardless of its alleged "anti- 
national designs" and use as an "instrument of the Western powers", but more in touch with 
Western developments in Church history and Bible research, is only available in publications by 
independent writers, mostly through Voice of India. [2] 

The Sangh Parivar cannot be accused of a confrontationist stance vis-a-vis the Christians and the 
missionaries. The single most frightening moment for the Christian mission strategists was in the 
mid-1950s, when the BJS was hardly in the picture as a political force. The Congress government of 
Madhya Pradesh ordered an investigation of fraudulent conversions through social pressure and 
material inducement by Christian missionaries in the tribal belt. The BJS supported the 
implementation of the recommendations (for a much stricter control of missionary activities and 
finances) concluding the highly critical report of this committee. The BJS 1957 election manifesto 
stated: "The recommendations of the Niyogi Committee and Rege Committee will be implemented 
to free the Bharatiya Christians from the anti-national influence of foreign missionaries." [3] Remark 
the language used: it sounds as if the BJS wants to protect the Christians against the missionaries. 
Then already, it apparently felt the need to cloak its concern for Hindu (including tribal) interests in 
an ostensible concern for the minorities. At any rate, Nehru prevented the report from having any 
political consequences. 

The BJS took up the same thread of checking the missionary activities when it reckoned it was in a 
stronger position to impose its will, viz. when it was part of the Janata Party government. In 1978, 
O.P. Tyagi proposed his Freedom of Religion Bill in the Lok Sabha, with the object of prohibiting 
conversions by force or allurement. The Christian missions launched a worldwide propaganda 
campaign against it, and the Leftist sections of the Janata Party also opposed it, so that nothing 
came of it. But the BJS had at least tried; the BJP cannot even be credited with trying. 

In 1994, the Churches created a similar stir, on the occasion of a very small incident in the Chennai 
area. After reading Ishwar Sharan's book The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva 

Temple, which argued that a number of churches including the one commemorating Saint 
Thomas's alleged martyrdom had been built on destroyed Shiva temples, a back-bench member of 
the RSS-affiliated Tamil organization Hindu Munnani went to a church in Pondicherry, equipped 
with the paraphernalia for puja, and inquired where the Shiva lingam was, so that he could worship 
it. He had learnt that the Cathedral had been built on the site of the Vedapuri-Ishwaran Temple 
after the temple had been destroyed in 1748 by the Jesuits aided by the then French governor of 
Pondicherry. Immediately, the Catholic Church was alarmed and warned that the Hindu 
fundamentalists were trying to create a second Ayodhya affair. The Hindu Munnani responded to 
the challenge in a very modest way, holding a small demonstration near the church (as close as the 
police allowed them to go) to draw attention to the Catholic Church's record in the attempted 
destruction of Hinduism in South India. 

The Hindu Munnani did not let the controversy escalate any further, not least because the BJP had 
immediately disowned the fledgling movement. The story of how the Vedapuri-Ishwaran temple 
was destroyed had been documented in great detail in Sita Ram God's History of Hindu Christian 
Encounters published in 1989. He requested an RSS journalist whose syndicated column was 
published in many newspapers across the country, to make the story more widely known by 
devoting one of the articles to it. He agreed but did not keep his promise. Goel tried to get the story 
summarized in the Organizer also, and immediately sent a copy of his book to the editor who 
expressed willingness over the telephone. But weeks passed without the weekly even mentioning 
the episode. Later on, it was learnt that the Sangh leaders had decided to suppress the story, and so 
it was blocked out of the media controlled by the Sangh Parivar. When I mentioned this incident to 
some leading BJP members, none of them expressed any interest in, let alone sympathy for the 
Hindu Munnani's position. K.R. Malkani, whom the media always describe as "BJP ideologue", 
laughed it off and said that "we have no quarrel with the Christians". 

Why did the BJP refuse to focus attention on the record of Christian aggression? Though focusing 
on conflictual chapters in history has been decried and condemned in the strongest terms when 
Hindus did just that during the Ayodhya campaign, it is a perfecdy respectable activity in other parts 
of the world. Every now and then, we hear of some new monument or movie commemorating the 
Holocaust and confirming the Germans in their role of culprits. Monuments are being built to 
commemorate the victims of Communism, and hence to draw attention to the guilt of their 
Communist oppressors and executioners. Except for Hindu society victimized in centuries of 
Muslim rule, every community which considers itself the victim of large-scale aggression at some 
point in history freely exercises the right to fix the memory of this crime in the collective 

Most to the point, the not-so-gentle conquest and Christianization of the Americas has been 
commemorated on a very large scale in 1 992, on the 500th anniversary of Columbus's landing. It so 
happens that another 500th anniversary in approaching: that of Vasco da Gama's landing in India in 
1498. Juridically and theologically, this event was the exact counterpart of Columbus's landing in 
America. In the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, the Pope had allotted two halves of the world to Spain 
and Portugal, on condition that these Christian states organize the Christianization of their 
respective colonies. Most of America and East Asia fell to Spain, while Portugal got the area from 

Brazil to China, including Africa and India. The Portuguese were less successful in India than the 
Spanish were in America, not because their intentions and methods were different, but simply 
because the power equation was different: the Indians were better equipped (cannon, horses, 
resistance to diseases) than the Native Americans, while the Portuguese were fewer in number than 
the Spanish. On a smaller scale, the Portuguese in India behaved just like the Spanish in America: 
forcible conversions, massacres of the native priesthood, destruction of places of worship. 

Therefore, the question arises: is there any chance of a 1998 commemoration comparable to the 
1992 commemorations? In 1992, even the Pope felt he couldn't ignore the painful anniversary, and 
in the name of the Catholic Church, he publicly apologized to the Native Americans. This was the 
result of a broad movement in public opinion, including the cultural sector and politicians from 
every American country. Is there any chance that the Pope will feel sufficiently pressured to do the 
same thing towards the Hindus? As things stand at the time of writing, it looks like there will be no 
trace of a similar Christian soul-searching, simply because there will be no Hindu pressure in that 
direction. In December 1995, Hindu Munnani activists in Chennai told me that they vaguely 
consider "doing something", but no writer or film director is creating an opinion climate, and even 
the political party allegedly waging a campaign against the Christians is not taking up the issue at all. 
Mr. Malkani emphatically denied that the BJP would ever consider participating in or give a lead to 
such a movement. 

To sum up, while a part of the BJP constituency certainly harbours anti-Christian feelings, the BJP 
is careful to avoid any confrontation with the powerful Christian Churches. One reason is that most 
Hindus are simply not sufficiently informed about Christianity to take it on in any meaningful way 
(often sentimentally cherishing crazy myths about Jesus having lived in India, the Gospel teaching 
yoga, etc.). Another is that the calculating BJP politicians see courtesy to Christianity as one of the 
prerequisites for achieving the mirage -like goal of being accepted as secular. 

[1] Typical examples are Brahma Datt Bharati: Christian Conversions (1980), Thanulinga Nadar: 
Unrest at Kanyakumari (1983), and Major T.R. Vedantham: Christianity, a Political Problem (1984). 

[2] Examples are Ram Swarup: Hindu View of Christianity and Islam (1992) and Hindu-Buddhist 
Rejoinder to Pope John-Paul II (1995), Sita Ram Goel: History of Hindu-Christian Encounters 
(1989, 1996) and Jesus Christ, Artifice for Aggression (1995), Ishwar Sharan: The Myth of Saint 
Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple (1991, 1994), and Arun Shourie: Missionaries in India 

[3] Party Documents, vol.l, p.82. 

18. Hindus wielding the sword of 

When Akbar had Rajput armies fight his Rajput enemies, he rejoiced at the sight of "Hindus 
wielding the sword of Islam". When his archers could not distinguish between the Rajput 
mercenaries and the Rajput freedom-fighters, he told them that it didn't matter, since anyone killed 
would be a Kafir anyway. India's greatest Moghul is often mindlessly lauded by Hindus as a 
"secular" ruler, but while he should be credited with a certain wisdom, he was and remained an 
enemy of the Infidels. Unlike the Delhi sultans, who constantly provoked Hindu uprisings with 
their cruel politics of jihad (apart from weakening themselves with their internecine fighting), Akbar 
managed to consolidate a Muslim empire by incorporating a sufficient number of Hindus in his 

Thus, his abolition of the jizya (which could seldom be collected in mral areas where most Hindus 
lived) need not be read as a gesture of communal amity, but rather as a clever way of opening new 
tax channels to the rural masses through mostly Hindu tax collectors. He extracted a much larger 
revenue from Hindu tax -payers in the form of land tax or other secular formulas, than his 
predecessors had managed to do through the jizya. And it is through Akbar's tax collecting system 
that Aurangzeb would later collect his re -instituted jizya. 

On the Hindu side too, things are not always what they seem, and some reputations for Hindu 
bravery deserve some reconsideration, precisely because on closer scrutiny, they were "Hindus 
wielding the sword of Islam". Thus, Guru Govind Singh declared in his Zafar-nama ("victory 
letter", though there is nothing victorious about its superficially defiant but basically toadyist 
contents) that like Aurangzeb, he too was an idol-breaker. In spite of the RSS veneration for 
Govind Singh and his "sword-arm of Hinduism", the germ of Sikh separatism and the islamization 
of Sikhism was already in evidence in his words and deeds. The Marathas started as Hindu freedom 
fighters, but ended as bullies to the Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs, and as vassals of the Moghuls. The 
Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj wanted to defend Hinduism against Christian and Islamic 
aggression, but started by attacking the elements in Hinduism which contrasted most with 
Christianity and Islam (polytheism, idol- worship), and promoted their Christian-Islamic 
counterparts instead. 

What about the Sangh? 

Where Hindus have an acute problem with Muslims or Islam, they tend to vote BJP except where 
they have tougher alternatives. Yet, the record does not bear out the deduction that the BJP must 
be quite an anti-Muslim party. It will never initiate any policies specifically targeting the Muslims 
(such as the unkept promise of a crackdown on Bangladeshi infiltrators) except in an externally 
provoked Hindu-Muslim crisis of major proportions, i.e. a genuine armed Muslim uprising,-- but 

under such circumstances most non-BJP governments would take similar positions. 

Contrary to certain impressions created in the media, the BJS-BJP and RSS leaders have a heartfelt 
desire to woo the Muslims. The present official position of the RSS (and a fortiori of the BJP) is, 
more than ever, that Islam itself is quite alright, only fundamentalism is wrong. Even the well- 
known secularist theory that the Hindu-Muslim conflict was merely a concoction of the wily British 
colonizers is often repeated in RSS publications, sometimes with the addition that Congress and 
other secularist parties have now assumed the divisive role which the British once played. In every 
case, the role of the intrinsic hostility which Islam itself preaches and practises against "idolatry" is 
downplayed or kept out of the picture. 

It is easy to establsh that the Sangh is not preparing but rather avoiding any confrontation with 
Islam. The BJP and other Hindu organizations do perceive militant Islam as a genuine threat to 
Hindu society: "It is being realized by all democratic countries that today the greatest threat to 
world peace emanates from Islamic fundamentalism." [1] But though the claim of an actual 
consensus in the democratic countries is exaggerated, this is hardly an original or outlandish 
observation. Among the many who made similar remarks, we may mention former NATO 
Secretary-General Willy Claes, who said in early 1995 that militant Islam may be about to replace 
Communism as the global threat claiming the vigilance (and hence justifying the existence) of 

A few RSS authors do expect a confrontation between Islam and other powers, and some have 
even brought in Samuel Huntingdon's well-known theory of the "Clash of Civilizations". [2] Mostly, 
the thmst of this line of thought is not to predict a Hindu-Muslim confrontation, but a conflict 
between Islam and the West. The Hindutva audience likes this a lot, for the same reason why it is so 
fond of astrological predictions that India will become a Hindu state in the near future: 
Huntingdon's predicted clash between Islam and the West would make things easy for the Hindus, 
viz. by taking the pressure off India. Hindus often translate Huntingdon-type predictions as: "the 
West will take care of Islam" — meaning that for all their apprehensions about the rising power of 
Islam, Hindus will not need to do anything themselves. This type of discourse confirms that many 
Hindus are profoundly uncomfortable with the Islamic presence in and around India, yet they do 
not consider themselves to be the rock in the storm on which victory against Islam depends. 

But the Hindutva forces are not content to just dream of third parties eliminating the Islam 
problem. They also actively counter those in India who want to get serious about uprooting Islam. 
The BJP goes out of its way to assure everyone that it has no bad feelings towards Islam as such, 
e.g.: "To oppose Islamic fundamentalism does not mean to oppose Islam, which like all other major 
faiths is a religion of love, peace and brotherhood." [3] It strongly discourages those within its own 
ranks who want to face the Islam problem squarely. The BJP government of Delhi has refused to 
cancel judicial proceedings initiated by its secularist predecessors against Voice of India for the 
publication Understanding Islam through Hadis by Ram Swarup. In fact, the Sangh tries to blunt 
the sword of those who take on Islam, and thereby effectively defends Islam. 

Even in the RSS weeklies, while the case against Islamic "fundamentalism" inside and outside of 
India is documented and argued week after week (nowadays mostly in the well-written columns of 

V.P. Bhatia and Muzaffer Hussain), criticism of Islam itself is extremely rare. When in the 1980s the 
historian Sita Ram Goel filled a weekly column in Organiser with mustering evidence for his 
position that fundamentalist intolerance is the essence of Islam itself rather than a deviation, RSS 
General Secretary H.V. Seshadri intervened to have the column discontinued and the editor, the 
arch-moderate K.R. Malkani, sacked. The reason given for the discontinuation was that "otherwise, 
with such attacks on Islam, the Muslims will not join us". The same reason was given by the BJS 
leadership when asking Balraj Madhok to leave the party, in 1973, "on the grounds that since 
Muslims had become allergic to me they would not join the party". [4] 

It is hard to conceive of a situation where a society is vexed and tortured by a persistent enemy, 
then generates a millions-strong organization pledged to the defence of this society, and yet this 
organization, this boastful "vanguard", fails to produce even the most sketchy analysis of the 
motives and methods of this enemy. Only Hindus could fare this badly. Fifty years after the 
Partition, twenty-six years after the East Bengal genocide, there are still Hindus singing mendacious 
refrains like Ram Rahim Ek Hai and "equal truth of all religions", because their supposed leaders 
have never bothered to inform them. A large part of the reason is to be found in specific choices 
made by the Sangh leadership, most of all the choice to seek secular respectability by means of 
appeasement policies including flattery of Mohammed and Islam. 

Now that the Sangh exists, many activist Hindus gravitate towards it, but otherwise they would have 
set up their own shops and worked for Hinduism according to their own lights rather than follow 
the Sangh party-line. I am sure that in that case, the ideological struggle against Islam would have 
been waged much more vigorously, because most normally intelligent people consider it obvious 
that the existence of a problem warrants an investigation of its causes, i.e., that the suffering of 
Hindu society under Islamic aggression urgently warrants scrutiny of the doctrine and historical 
models underlying the characteristic behaviour pattern of Islam. By deliberately suppressing this 
perfectly natural ideological mobilization of the Hindus against Islam, the Sangh has effectively 
acted as Islam's first line of defence. 

[1] Foreign Policy Resolutions, p.5 (1995). 

[2] V.P. Bhatia: "The coming clash of civilisations", Organiser, 18-25/2/1996. I myself was invited 
by the Deendayal Research Institute to speak on this theme (February 1995). 

[3] Foreign Policy Resolutions, p.5 (1995). 

[4] That at least is Madhok's own version, see Balraj Madhok: "A Question of Power", Indian 
Express, 29 October 1995. 

19. How not to deal with Islam 

When dealing with Islam, it is crucially important to keep in mind the distinction between Islam as a 
doctrine and the Muslims, a group of people who were born or tricked into an Islamic 
environment. There is nothing intrinsically Islamic about human beings, not even when they are 
named Mohammed or Aisha. 

In Europe, the secularist Left accuses the mushrooming national-populist and xenophobic parties 
of a "biologization of cultural differences". When the said parties plead that they have put "racism" 
behind them, that they have nothing against coloured people or foreigners per se, and that they only 
fear for social disharmony as a consequence of the co-existence of European and immigrant 
cultures, their opponents rightly argue that this implies a belief in the permanent character of 
people's cultural identity. By assuming that immigrant foreigners are bound to remain culturally 
foreign, the xenophobes treat cultural identity as if it were a racial characteristic: a permanent and 
hereditary trait. In reality, of course, cultural identities change, e.g. most second-generation Hindu 
immigrants have moved rather closely towards the mainstream culture of their adopted countries. 
Cultural identity including religion is not a permanent or hereditary trait. 

Yet, in India, the secularist Left, always ready to take stands directly opposed to what counts 
internationally as secular, insists that the Muslim cultural identity is a permanent fact of life with 
which Hindus will have to co-exist in perpetuity. Just as whites are bound to remain white and 
blacks are certain to remain black, Muslims are bound to remain Muslim, and Hindus just have to 
learn to live with them. (The implication that Hindus should remain Hindu, however, does not 
apply: any criticism of conversion of Hindus to Islam or Christianity is either condemned or 

This secularist "biologization of Islam" is also assumed, quite mindlessly, by most supposedly 
Hindu organizations. Their schemes for solving the communal problem are entirely within the 
framework of Hindu-Muslim co-existence: first there are the Hindu and the Muslim community, 
and next we have to find a way to make them co-exist. The harder they try to be secular, the more 
they reduce the Islam problem to one of co-existence with a community which is somehow 
different, though the nature of that difference is emphatically not up for analysis. Not one bad word 
will they say about Islam, even though it is Islam and nothing else which separates the Indian 
Muslims from their fellow Indians, and even though the problem of how to integrate the Muslims 
into the Hindutva identity constandy occupies their minds. 

This approach is politically counterproductive, as we shall argue, and it is unhistorical in its 
acceptance of Islam on a par with Hinduism. Firsdy, Hinduism is a civilization in its own right, 
developed as mankind's answer to certain questions and problems, both practical and profound, but 
Islam is merely a reactive phenomenon, generally destructive of (and at best parasitic on) ancient 
and genuine civilizations. Secondly, in India's religious landscape, the Indian Muslim community is 
but a fairly recent addition cut out of the flesh of Hindu society. 

Moreover, this approach of shielding Islam from critical enquiry is unfair to Islam by emphatically 
ignoring Islam's own self-definition as a religion based on a truth claim, viz. that "there is no god 
but Allah and Mohammed is Allah's prophet", a truth claim which can and must be evaluated as 
either true or false. 

Finally, this non-doctrinal approach to the Muslim community creates the impression (gleefully 
picked up by the legions of communalism-watchers out to blacken Hindu society and its defenders) 
of a purely xenophobic motivation, similar to that of anti-foreigner parties in the West. Xenophobic 
parties in the West are faced with the problem that the country which they claim for their own 
nation is "invaded" by an outsider population which they cannot or will not assimilate. The cadres 
of these parties are often ideologues of ethnic or racial purity who do not want to assimilate Blacks 
or North -Africans or Turks, just as their grandfathers once rejected the assimilation of Jews. The 
recent electoral growth of these parties is, by contrast, mainly due to working-class people who have 
assimilated immigrant labour (Italians, Poles) before, but who now find that certain new immigrant 
groups (particularly Muslims) in their neighbourhoods cultivate their separateness. They fear that, 
against their own wish, they can not assimilate these separatist newcomers, and that their children 
will be faced with a civil war. Either way, the starting-point of these xenophobic parties is the 
separateness or non-assimilation of foreigner populations, and their "only solution" is to send these 
immigrants (and their children and grandchildren) back to their countries of origin. 

In India, most Muslims are not immigrants even in the tenth generation, but otherwise the mistake 
made by their opponents is the same as in Europe: accepting the Muslimness of these Muslims as 
an unshakable basic fact which any policy must take into account. 

The best example of this alleged similarity is the common complaint about the Islamic birth rate. 

On the Hindutva fringe, there are pamphlets which falsely cite the World Health Organization as 
having established that within twenty years or so, Muslims will be the majority in India. More 
serious publications, including Organiser and BJP Today, report a slower but nonetheless 
impressive increase in the Muslim percentage of India's population, recorded in every decadal 
census since 1881, and projected to continue at an even faster rate in the coming decades. In 
essence, this picture is correct: the percentage of Muslims shows a persistent increase at the expense 
of the Hindu percentage, with the rate of increase itself increasing. Given the higher Hindu 
participation in the birth control effort of the 1960s and 70s, we must now be witnessing a 
cumulative effect, of a proportionately smaller number of Hindu mothers (born in that period) 
having in their turn each a smaller number of children than the proportionately larger number of 
Muslim mothers, on average. On top of the higher birth rate of Muslims within the Indian Union, 
there is the dramatic influx of millions upon millions of Bangladeshis and also some Pakistanis. 

The fact that in 1991 the Indian government has chosen to replace a real census count of religious 
adherence with an estimate is itself an indication that the Muslim percentage is now rising at an 
alarming rate. In fact, the estimate was demonstrably rigged. It shows a slight decrease in the rate at 
which the Muslim percentage increases: up by 0.52% between 1971 (11.21%) and 1981 (11.73%), 
up by 0.47% between 1981 and 1991 (12.20). However, all data about the Hindu-Muslim 

differential in birth control and birth figures imply that the rate of Muslim increase is itself 
increasing, even without counting the estimated ten million Bangladeshi Muslims who entered India 
between 1981 and 1991 .[1] On top of the native increase, we must add the figure of the said 
immigrants, which by itself amounts to more than 1% of India's population, twice as high as the 
total growth of the Muslim percentage as claimed by the Government. For once, I agree with Imam 
Bukhari, who has been saying for long that the Indian government systematically understates the 
number of Muslims in India. The total increase between 1981 and 1991 must be at least 1.5%. 
Assuming that the 1981 figure is correct, the 1991 figure is definitely higher than 13%, or at least 
1% higher than the government claims. 

So far, so good: the Sangh is right about the substantial increase in the Muslim percentage of the 
Indian population. A realistic projection into the future of present demographic (including 
migratory) trends does predict a Muslim majority in the Subcontinent by the mid-21st century, and 
a Muslim majority in the Indian Union by the turn of the 22nd century (in some regions much 
earlier). Though generally correct, this type of calculation is subject to an unkind comparison: the 
same type of projection occupies the minds of white racists in the USA. They expect that whites 
will cease to be the majority there by the mid-21st century, and they too are worried and unable to 
stem the tide. But there are two important differences. 

The first one is that the non-whites in the USA do not or need not form a genuine problem for US 
whites, because people of different ethnic backgrounds can and do share in the same American 
Dream, can and do participate in a common American society. By contrast, Islam in India is 
intrinsically separatist and aiming for hegemony and ultimately for the destruction of Hinduism 
through conversion or otherwise. There is nothing intrinsically anti-white about blacks, but there is 
definitely something intrinsically anti-Hindu about Islam. For this reason, the concern of whites 
about the growth of non-white groups in the USA is reprehensible, but the concern of Hindus 
about the growth of Islam is entirely justified. 

The second difference is that people's membership of certain racial groups, black or white or other, 
is unchangeable; while the potentially alarming adherence of people to Islam is entirely changeable. 
And it is at this last point that the BJP-cum-secularist acceptance of the Islamic identity of the 
Indian Muslims distorts the picture. 

Like American white racists, BJP secularists are, in their heart of hearts, worried about the 
demographic increase of the minorities, but they don't want to admit it in so many words. Thus, in 
its 1996 Election Manifesto, the BJP warns that because of Bangladeshi infiltration, "various 
demographic entities are bound to come in conflict" due to "an alarming growth of a section of the 
population"; already, "a section of the population has grown by almost 100 per cent" in certain 
northeastern areas. [2] The BJP dooms itself to impotence by refusing to define the problem in its 
proper terms. Not wanting to sound anti-Muslim, the BJP avoids facing the "communal" angle, 
with the result that the Communist government in West Bengal cracks down on Hindu refugees 
and forces them back into Bangladesh, just to show the BJP what the asked-for crackdown on 
religiously undefined "Bangladeshi infiltrators" would mean in practice. Worse, even to the extent 
that the BJP does identify the problem as "illegal Bangladeshi Muslims", it dooms itself to an 

unimaginative (and by now probably unrealistic) solution, viz. to physically push these people back 
across the border. [3] 

This grudgingly admitted concern about the increasing Muslim presence, combined with the feeling 
of impotence to stop this ominous increase, leads to certain undesirable ideas, which you do not 
find in BJP or RSS publications, but which do come out in more extreme pamphlets of fringe 
groups and in unrecorded conversations. One such idea is that birth control should be made 
compulsory, e.g. by enforcing vasectomy on every father of two children. Another idea in this 
category is that Hindus should reintroduce polygamy (as I read in a pamphlet by British NRIs). A 
third, propagated by the Puri Shankaracharya among others, is that Hindus should return to having 
as many children per woman as possible (quite like the natalist propaganda of xenophobic parties in 
Europe). A fourth is that all Indian Muslims should go to Pakistan, which was, after all, created for 
them ("Mussalman ke do hi sthan: Pakistan ya qabrastan"). In 1947 this was, coupled with an 
ordered evacuation of Hindus from Pakistan, an eminently sensible proposal which could have 
saved millions of lives (including those yet to be lost in future clashes resulting from Hindu-Muslim 
"co-existence" in India). [4] Today, however, it could only be done by means of extreme violence, 
comparable in intensity to (but a hundred times larger than) the full-scale civil war which preceded 
the expulsion of the French inhabitants of Algeria in 1962. 

Hindutva men of the drinking kind utter such ideas in the late hours, when they are ashamed about 
their party's non-performance on the communal front and feel the need to strike a more martial 
profile. These are indeed drunkards' ideas. Within their scheme of things, the choice is one of 
simply letting the Muslims take over India as soon as they become numerous enough (which is well 
before they reach the 50% mark, e.g. Jinnah was offered the government by Gandhi when the 
Muslims were hardly 24% in undivided India); or implementing one of the said scenarios of 
demographic competition or ethnic cleansing. I cannot blame anti-Hindu authors for highlighting 
such ideas as all too similar to certain forms of xenophobia and racism elsewhere. 

Thoughtful Hindus, by contrast, have no such problem. They don't rely on numbers but on 
consciousness, the secret weapon which will blow Islam away. Let the Indian Muslims "breed like 
rats": it is thanks to them that India will overtake China as the most populous country in the world 
(a doubtful honour in this age, but these millions may be needed one day). All that is needed to 
avert the catastrophe of a Muslim take-over, is that these numerous children of Muslim parents are 
properly educated. 

It is a well-known fact that most South-Asian Muslims are the descendents of converts from 
Hinduism. As for the Turkish, Persian or Arabic components of the Muslim community, they too 
are the descendents of converts, be it from Buddhism or Zoroastrianism or some other Kafir 
religion. There is nothing intrinsically Muslim even about Arabs, who were the first victims of 
Islam. Islamic scripture itself is quite unambiguous about the terror which Mohammed and his 
companions used to pressurize the Arabs into joining them; and about the national Arab revolt 
against Islam after Mohammed's death, a war of liberation which they only lost because they did not 
resort to the same ruthless style of warfare which Mohammed had introduced. The people known 
as Muslims have walked into Islam, and they are bound to walk out again as well. Powerful as the 

conditioning of Islamic indoctrination may be, it remains a superficial imposition susceptible to the 
law of impermanence. That is why any solution which starts by assuming the Muslimness of the 
Muslims, is mistaken. 

[1] The clearest eye-opener is the birth-rate in the relatively affluent Muslim-majority district of 
Malappuram in highly-literate Kerala (see Baljit Rai: Is India Going Islamic?, p.103-106); at 75.22%, 
the female literacy rate in Malappuram is twice as high as for most Hindu communities in the Hindi 
belt. In the decade 1981-91 its population grew by 28.74%, well above the national average of 
23.50% and more than twice the Kerala average of 13.98%. This disproves the usual excuse that the 
birth-rate automatically follows the poverty rate and the illiteracy rate. Most Hindu Scheduled Caste 
people whom I know have settled for smaller families, but by and large, Muslims have not changed 
their appetite for large families. Ever since the propagation of birth control among the Hindu 
masses, rich and literate Muslims have more children than poor and illiterate Hindus. 

[2] BJP Election Manifesto 1996: For a Strong and Prosperous India, p.39. This is practically a 
parody of secularist riot reporting (where "Muslims burned a temple down" becomes "members of 
a particular community damaged a religious building"). 

[3] It is a different matter that the BJP state government in Delhi, voted to power in 1993 on a 
platform prominently including a crackdown on Bangladeshi infiltrators, has totally gone back on 
this promise. 

[4] The chance to organize a peaceful and ordered exchange of population (not the optimum 
solution but certainly the lesser evil after Partition had been conceded), though proposed as early as 
1940 by Dr. Ambedkar, was spurned by Gandhi and Nehru, who preferred to see the millions bleed 
rather than give up their dogma of a "composite culture". The 20th century AD has been full of 
enlightened leaders sacrificing millions of real human beings on the altar of ideological chimaeras. 

20. How to deal with Islam 

The "communal" problem is simple, and so is its solution. The root cause of communal riots, of the 
Partition with its nearly a million victims, and of the East Bengal genocide with its three million 
victims, is the Islamic doctrine of permanent hostility against the unbelievers. [1] As the Quran says: 
"Fight them until idolatry is no more and religion belongs to Allah alone" (2:193 and 8:39), and: 
"Enmity and hate shall reign between us until ye believe in Allah alone" (60:4). More than 70 
passages in the Quran teach that non-Muslims are to be shunned and treated as enemies, that they 
are bound for hellfire, and that rulership in this and bliss in the next world is reserved for Muslims 
alone. This body of doctrine is further corroborated and enriched with like-minded statements and 
model acts of Mohammed and his companions, and systematized by theologians and jurists. The 
solution is obvious: remove the intrinsically communal and separatist doctrine of Islam from the 
minds of its misguided followers. Educate them so that they can laugh at the primitive beliefs which 
have held them captive for so long, just as adults can take a laugh at their own childhood illusions. 

Sounds radical? This was the solution offered by the Arya Samaj, a progressive Hindu reform 
movement, which put the large-scale reconversion of Muslims to the Yedic tradition high on Hindu 
society's agenda. Its central doctrinal book, Swami Dayananda Saraswati's Satyartha Prakash (1875), 
contained the first Hindu vivisection of Islamic doctrine, still a bit clumsy but on the right track. 

The movement had its martyrs, several authors of publications on Islam and leaders of the 
reconversion movement killed by Muslim activists; but it never indulged in any similar forms of 

Indeed, frank debate on ideas is inversely proportionate with riots and bomb attacks. For this 
reason, the secularist editors and professors and politicians who suppress debate on the record and 
doctrines of Islam are among the chief culprits of India's communal conflagrations. [2] The BJP is 
making a grave mistake by actively and passively joining the "secular" (in Europe we would call it 
anti-secular) effort to shield Islam from rational investigation and informed debate. Instead, it 
should make and support every effort to expose Islam and break the spell it has cast on hundreds of 
millions of fellow Indians now known as Muslims. 

Today, the liberation of the Muslims from Islam should be a top priority for all those who care 
about India's and the world's future. This is all the more obvious when we notice that in the Muslim 
world itself, many writers have stood up to publicize their break with Islam, and to show their 
brethren the way out of the religion which was forced on them by Mohammed and his companions. 
Some have done so from a newfound atheist conviction (e.g. Taslima Nasrin), others from a 
rediscovery of the ancient ever-young spirituality of the Yedic tradition (e.g. Anwar Shaykh). Given 
the intolerance for dissident opinions in the Muslim world, and given the actual spate of murders 
and murder attempts against fellow dissidents, each one of these apostates has had to muster far 
more courage than Sangh Parivar people will need when they finally speak up against Islam in the 
relative safety and freedom of secular India. 

The case against Islam is not limited to its record of intolerance, aggression, persecution and 
barbarity. Quite apart from its violent self-righteousness and its anti-national attitudes, Islam is 
reprehensible for the more fundamental and more universal reason that it is not true. Most ancient 
religious traditions are not based on belief systems, e.g. though the theory of reincarnation has 
gained widespread popularity among Hindus, there is no law which excludes non-believers in 
reincarnation from the Hindu fold. Religions like Shinto or Taoism consist in a set of practices and 
ritual or ethical conventions, established as a practical framework of life within which people can 
exercise their freedom to seek spiritual upliftment; they are not based on a belief system. In contrast 
to these ancient communal religions, Christianity and Islam make a truth claim which is non- 
pro vable but must nonetheless be accepted and will be enforced with grim punishments in this 
world and the next. [3] It is meaningless to talk about these creedal religions without evaluating their 
central truth claims. 

In the case of Islam, this creed is quite simple: There is no god except Allah, and Mohammed is the 
prophet of Allah. The first part may or may not be true, depending on the meaning of the terms. 
Like the Vaishnava term Bhagwan, "the sharer", effectively "the Lord", the Pagan-Arab term Allah 
(from al-Ilah, "the god", cfr. Hebrew Eloha/Elohim) seems to have been an inclusive term, 
subsuming every god in the Arab pantheon. But to read this meaning into the Islamic creed would 
be unhistorical: the whole of Islamic scripture is entirely consistent in denouncing the worship of 
any "other god" (or what a Vaishnava inclusive-monotheist might call: "God under any other 
name") as irreconcilable with the worship of Allah. [4] It necessarily implies hostility to Hinduism as 
long as Hindus do not worship Allah to the exclusion of all the Hindu gods and to the exclusion of 
non-theistic worldviews. 

The second part of the Shahada, that Mohammed is Allah's prophet (assuming that Allah is the 
almighty Creator of the world), is decidedly untrue. First of all, it is entirely unproven. Every single 
sentence in the Quran can be explained from Mohammed's own socio -cultural background, like any 
perfecdy human product. Someone rich ought to announce an award for anyone who can find in 
the Quran a single sentence which proves by its contents that the Almighty had dictated it. That is 
what rationalist associations do to expose quack exponents of the paranormal: award a hundred 
thousand dollars for whomever can demonstrate even a single paranormal fact under foolproof 
conditions (so far, no one ever collected the prize). 

Allah is supposed to be omniscient. For such a Being it should be very easy to demonstrate some 
knowledge which is beyond the reach of ordinary human beings like Mohammed, say, being able in 
620 AD to predict the events of 2000 AD, or to give the then-unknown chemical formula of water, 
or to write a then-unknown language including modern Arabic. This would not be proof of 
omniscience yet, but at least proof that the Quran is not the handiwork of an ordinary mortal; but 
nothing of the sort is done in the Quran. Moreover, the Quran contains many contradictions and 
inaccuracies, both in terms of modern physical and medical knowledge and in terms of its 
references to Biblical characters and events, e.g. mistaking Moses' sister Miriam for Jesus' mother 
Miriam/Mary, though there is a time-gap of more than twelve centuries between the two. The 
omniscient Allah, who claims to be the God of Abraham and Moses, had somehow forgotten the 
details of his interactions with the Hebrew prophets, and while confidently predicting the 

Doomsday, He was ignorant of the scientific knowledge accumulated by mankind centuries before 
this Doomsday. 

Mohammed's own contemporaries were almost unanimous in dismissing his "revelations" as 
anything but divine, though they disagreed on whether his problem was demonic possession (as is 
still taught by some Christian missionaries) or just his imagination mn wild. Modern scholars have 
analyzed Mohammed's behaviour and "revelations" as typical symptoms of paranoia, while Swami 
Vivekananda opined that Mohammed suffered from the neuropathological effects of unguided 
yogic experiments. [5] At any rate, there is nothing God-given about the Quranic revelation. 

Islam stands or falls with Mohammed's prophethood. The entire Muslim law is based on it through 
its four pillars, either direcdy (Quran and Hadis, the lore about his model behaviour) or indirectly 
(Qiyas, or analogy of new situations with those in which Mohammed showed the way, and Ijma, the 
consensus of men well-versed in the former three). Those who are now Muslims will be free to 
replace Sharia laws with more humane laws once they emancipate themselves from their veneration 
for the man on whose words and acts the Sharia is based. Then alone will they be able in good 
conscience to drop their hostility to Hinduism. Moreover, then they themselves will opt for a 
Common Civil Code, and they themselves will turn the Kashi and Mathura mosques into temples of 
Shiva and Krishna, rather than have these changes forced on them by meddlesome Hindus. So, the 
Hindutva activists should replace the Common Civil Code and temple agitations, which claim 
things from the Muslims, with a campaign to reclaim the Muslims themselves, or at least to 
emancipate them from the grip of Islamic doctrine and leave them free to choose a more humane 
spiritual path for themselves. 

[1] The victims of the Pakistani repression in East Bengal in 1971 (of whom the big majority were 
Hindus, while the Bengali Muslims too were killed for anti-Hindu reasons, viz. for being "half- 
Hindu renegades"), like those of the Sultanate and Moghul regimes, have never been properly 
counted; careerwise, it is suicidal for a scholar to calculate the magnitude of Islam's crimes against 
humanity. The figure of 3 million is probably too high, but as it was given by a Muslim secularist 
(Bangladesh founder Mujibur Rahman), and as the secularists themselves have thrown their full 
weight against a proper study of the magnitude of Islamic massacres of Hindus, they cannot fault us 
for provisionally sticking to it. 

[2] You wouldn't guess it from their polished convent-school English, their trendy terminology, or 
their sanctimoniousness, but the likes of Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib or Gyanendra Pandey have 
blood on their hands. The wave of Muslim violence after the Ayodhya demolition (and the 
boomerang of police repression and Shiv Sena retaliation) was at least pardy due to the 
disinformation by supposed experts who denied that the disputed building had a violent 
iconoclastic prehistory, and implied that Hindus can get away with concocted history in their attacks 
on innocent mosques. This disinformation gave Muslim militants the sense of justification needed 
to mount a "revenge" operation and to mobilize decent Muslims for acts of violence which they 
never would have committed if they had known the truth about Islam's guilt in Ayodhya. 

[3] In this context, I want to caution against the imprecise use of the term "Semitic" when referring 
to the Prophetic-monotheistic religions. Apart from being tainted by the related term "anti-Semitic", 

it is also hopelessly inaccurate. Judaism (which is linguistically "Semitic" in that its basic texts are in 
Hebrew and Aramaic) is a communal religion just like Hinduism and most tribal and traditional 
religions, not a creedal one like Christianity and Islam. The Semitic peoples including the Arabs 
until the 7th century AD and the early Israelites were heathens worshipping goddesses in sacred 
groves and the like. The founding texts of Christianity were written in Greek, a non-Semitic 
language. Monotheism was brought into Judaism by Moses, culturally an Egyptian, and had already 
been briefly imposed on the Egyptians by Pharaoh Ekhnaton. 

[4] Allah is given "one hundred names", or rather Arabic epithets, but this does not mean that Isis 
or Apollo or Shiva will do just as well. The non-Quranic Persian god-name Khuda did admitteldly 
manage to sneak into Muslim parlance; but it is no coincidence that with the increasing grip of the 
theologians on public life in Iran and Pakistan, this term is being phased out in favour of "Allah", 
e.g. Khuda hafiz, "God preserve you" (for "goodbye") is being replaced on Pakistani television by 
Allah hafiz. 

[5] See Swami Vivekananda: Complete Works, vol.l, p.184. The psychopathological thesis on 
Mohammed has been developed in great detail by Dr. Herman Somers: Een and ere Mohammed 
(Dutch; Hadewijch, Antwerp 1992). 

21. Know the truth, and the truth 
shall make you free 

The struggle against Islamic aggression cannot be won without taking issue with the basic doctrines 
of Islam, i.e. explaining to the Muslims that they have no reason to stay with the refuted dogmas of 
Islam. The same is true for Christianity. The Sangh Parivar has made much ado about the Christian 
demand for reservations for "Christian Dalits", and about continuing Christian proselytization in 
tribal areas. It is, however, impossible to sustain this objection against the strategies of 
evangelization as long as Christianity is accepted as a valid religion qualified to enjoy the Hindus' 
sarva-dharma-samabhava. Why in the world should Indian citizens not embrace Christianity if it is 
true, at least "equally true" with Hinduism? Especially now that Christianity in India has largely 
"indianized" itself in its cultural expressions (e.g. by giving Hindu first names to their children), the 
Sangh should not object to conversions to Christianity. 

Being a Christian implies accepting a creed, i.e. an unprovable truth claim. The Christian 
denominations differ on some points of detail, but crucial to any criterion for being a Christian is 
the acceptance of the following item of belief: Jesus was the Christ/Messiah and saved mankind 
from original sin through his death and resurrection. To my knowledge, all denominations with 
active missions in India also teach that Jesus Christ was God's only-begotten son, both human and 
divine in nature. [1] However, modern Bible scholarship, much of it carried out by Christians, has 
conclusively refuted all the Christian fairy-tales about Jesus. [2] For example: 

* Contrary to his own self-image, Jesus was not the messiah in the original sense of the term, i.e. a 
scion of King David's clan who restores the Davidic kingdom. He never scored any political or 
military victory for his country, and by the end of his career, Israel was still under foreign 
domination. For all we know, Jesus did not even belong to the House of David; if he did, it is a 
mystery why the evangelists had to indulge in such demonstrably false and contradictory stories 
about Jesus' genealogy and birth. 

* Jesus was not executed by the Jews but by the Romans because of his entirely hollow but strictiy 
speaking seditious claim that he was the "messiah", i.e. the new king of the Jews, intrinsically a 
challenge to Roman rule in his country (but not an act of blasphemy liable to the death sentence 
under Jewish law, as wrongly alleged in the Gospel). The Gospel version that the Jews wanted him 
dead (when in fact they merely held him in contempt as a useless and self-centred eccentric) was 
invented when the Christians tried to be on the winning side during the Roman crackdown on the 
Jewish revolt of ca. 70 AD. This move set the trend of two millennia of Church opportunism and it 
off-hand initiated Christian antisemitism with its numerous pogroms culminating in the Holocaust. 

* Jesus was not the messiah in the Christian-theological sense, i.e. the redeemer of mankind from 
original sin and from its punishments (as per Genesis), viz. mortality, the need to work, and painful 

childbirth. Anyone can see that people have gone on sinning, giving birth in agony, eating the fruit 
of their labour in the sweat of their brows, and dying; just like they did before Jesus. 

* Jesus was not resurrected, for if he had really "conquered death", he would still be with us. The 
apostles tried to get around this simple logic by inventing his direct ascension to heaven, an 
imaginary event totally incoherent with the whole narrative, rendered necessary only by the fact that 
Jesus proved mortal like the rest of us. Fact is that the stories about the resurrection in the Gospels 
are full of contradictions and absurdities, like most of the theologically cmcial episodes. 

* Jesus was not God's only-begotten son, and for all his megalomania, he never even claimed to be 
that. The whole notion is a mix-up of the worst in Hebrew monotheism (exclusivism) and Greek 
paganism (idolizing of human beings as divine), and is absurd from the viewpoint of both these 
traditions in their pure forms. Like the crucifixion, it was "a scandal to Jews, a nonsense to Greeks", 
and an invention of the Church Fathers. [3] 

* Jesus was not even a prophet, in the sense of being able to predict the future. Like his follower 
Paul, he predicted the impending end of the world (even within the lifetime of his listeners),— surely 
a failed prophecy. 

* Jesus' ethics were mosdy not his, but included classical Jewish lore ("love thy neighbour") and 
general proverbs ("to him who hath, shall be given"). Some of "his" words were put into his mouth 
retrospectively by the evangelists, e.g. "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's", a diplomatic kowtow to 
the Romans. The words which he really spoke himself are either not original or not commendable. 
Thus, the humane doctrine of the relativity of the Law (i.e. that the need to save a human life can 
overrule a commandment), always presented as a revolutionary innovation, was taught by the very 
Pharisees against whom Jesus is reported to have preached this doctrine. As against the Pharisees' 
balanced view of the Law, Jesus vacillated between a pseudo-noble but inhuman hyper-adherence 
to the law ("even a man who mentally lusts after a woman is guilty of adultery") and a nihilistic 
dismissal of the Law and even of sheer common sense as having become irrelevant in view of the 
impending Doomsday ("don't plan for the morrow", like the lilies in the field). Jesus' original 
contribution lies mostly in the least commendable injunctions, e.g. in his very un -Jewish anti-family 
and anti-sexuality statements, in the commandment of surrender to the aggressor ("when slapped, 
turn the other cheek"), and in the morbid Sermon on the Mount ("the meek shall inherit the 
earth"), which teaches the weak to exult in their weakness instead of exhorting them to become 

This was merely a brief survey of the case against Christianity, but Hindutva activists who are 
serious about countering Christian subversion ought to fa mili arize themselves more throughly with 
these findings. Similarly, the case against Islam as marshalled in a number of quality books is 
required reading for anyone who prefers India not to become an Islamic state. [4] Hindus may 
rightly feel more drawn to critiques of Christianity and Islam from a spiritual viewpoint, as those by 
Ram Swarup, than to purely rationalistic critiques; yet, I feel that taking cognizance of the latter's 
very thorough and comprehensive analysis of these religions would certainly be worth the effort. 
After properly digesting the hard scholarly facts, they may add something which most scholars may 

be unaware of, and which Hinduism offers: a comprehensive vision which allows for a meaningful 
type of ritual and spiritual practice to continue after the creedal religions have been discarded. 

If the Sangh is serious about saving Hinduism, it should make sure that from now on, no one can 
get away with pious nonsense like Jesus' Resurrection or Quranic Revelation. Every time a wily 
secularist or sentimental Ramakrishnaist stands up to praise Jesus or Mohammed, every time an 
Indian President or Minister opens a Christian or Islamic function with the injunction that "we 
should all put Jesus' (c.q. Mohammed's) message of peace and tolerance into practice", Hindus 
should push the facts under his nose. 

[1] One of the most bizarre disputes in religious history is the fragmentation of the early Church in 
sects divided by their doctrines concerning the nature of Jesus. Some "heresies" marginally 
surviving in the Middle East teach that Jesus was but a non-divine human being, others that he was 
exclusively divine and not human, but the mainstream (after bloody persecutions of the others) 
decided that Jesus had two natures, divine and human. 

[2] For a start, I suggest all the Hindutva workers dealing with Christian missionaries read Michael 
Arnheim's excellent book Is Christianity True? (Duckworth, London 1984), and of course the Voice 
of India publications on Christianity. 

[3] According to the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, the source of the Indian Church's claim that the 
apostle Thomas came to India and was martyred near Chennai, Thomas was Jesus' twin-brother, 
which ought to create a problem for the dogma of the "only-begotten son". 

[4] A truly great book in this class, written by a born Muslim, is Ibn Warraq: Why I Am Not a 
Muslim(Prometheus, New York 1995). 

22. Hindu objections 

A Hindu policy of ideological confrontation with hostile religions is necessary for the survival of 
India as an essentially Hindu country. After having flattered Christianity and Islam for several 
centuries, Hindus inside and outside the Sangh may come up with many objections against such a 
policy. As a BJP man once told me: "When we attack Christianity, it is not the Christians who leave 
us — they are not with us anyway — , it is the Hindus who won't vote for us." This much is certainly 
true, that the rotten sentimentalism of "equal truth of all religions" has gone fairly deep into the 
Hindu psyche. Before explaining anything to Christians and Muslims, the true story must be 
explained to Hindus, whose obstinate self-deception is the greatest obstacle to Hindu liberation. 
While Muslims consider it only logical that non-Muslims disbelieve Islam's defining dogmas, 

Hindus can get quite indignant when someone dares to say that the Islamic creed is wrong (more 
than when he scolds and ridicules Hinduism). 

One argument reluctant Hindus will come up with, is that it is pretentious to tell other people that 
they are wrong, as if any of us has a monopoly on the tmth. This is a case of Hindus getting angry 
at the sliver in their own eye but ignoring the beam in the enemy's eye. It is not Hinduism but Islam 
and Christianity which have started the game of telling others that they are wrong. If Hindus must 
enter this confrontation, it is because the confrontation is already taking place, though with only 
one side actually fighting. 

The meaning of: "There is no God except Allah", is precisely that all Hindus and all other non- 
Muslims are wrong when they worship Shiva or Amon-Ra or Wodan. Actually, it goes much farther 
than that: its full doctrinal implication is that those who worship any other God (or no God at all) 
are doomed: doomed to servility and rightlessness in this world and eternal hellfire in the next. By 
contrast, critics of Islam merely assert that believers in Islam are mistaken, without any further ado. 
The ancient believers in a flat earth were mistaken too, yet they are not suffering in hell for that. 
Erring is human, the fact of being proven wrong does not give your critics the right to take your 
property, to enslave you, to deny you full citizenship or public display of your religion. Muslims 
should not be punished for being deluded about Mohammed's megalomaniacal claims (the way 
their religion wants to punish us with jihad and hellfire for not sharing this delusion), they should 
on the contrary be helped to make a new start. 

Hindus are mistaken when they assume that proving someone wrong implies a claim to final truth. 
Look at it with the eyes of science. It is a fact that responsible scientists will hesitate to declare a 
theory to be absolutely true. Thus, Newton's mechanics seemed to be fully proven, and it was, but 
only for objects moving at moderate speed. Once objects moving at extremely high speeds were 
taken into account, the theory broke down and a more sophisticated theory was required, viz. 
Einstein's relativity theory. This way, with every broadening of our horizon, even the most well- 
proven theory may ultimately be shown to be deficient. Instead of achieving truth, we merely create 
milestones of better theories on the way to an ever-distant goal of absolute scientific truth, possibly 
an unreachable goal which we can only approximate asymptotically. The exotic world of quantum 

physics has even discovered phenomena which cannot be adequately described by one theory, but 
need two seemingly contradictory theories to describe their behaviour (as wave or as particle). 
Granted, the notion of objective truth has become more complex and more elusive than optimistic 
but naive Enlightenment philosophers thought. [1] 

And yet, no matter how cautious and even relativistic philosophers of science have become vis-a-vis 
the truth claims of science, they still take for granted that we can prove a theory wrong, definitively 
wrong. The theory that dewdrops are tears fallen from the moon cannot withstand empirical tests. 
To assert that water when heated becomes ice, would be wrong; it would not just be "different" or 
"differently valid", but downright wrong, definitively disproven. In mathematics, certain equations 
can be formulated for which there is no solution, or several solutions at the same time, but all the 
same, the equation "2 + 2 = 3" is and remains unambiguously wrong. Eventhough the search for 
the truth will go on for a long time to come, any truth claims proven wrong can now already be 
discarded. Rightness may be elusive, but wrongness is quite straightforward. I may hesitate to 
pronounce an opinion on whether Vedanta is right, but I can now already say that the defining truth 
claims of Christian and Islamic doctrine stand disproven. 

Christianity and Islam are wrong in their central truth claims and can immediately be discarded. 
Humanity has lived without these pretentious doctrines for long, and it is a matter of mathematical 
certainty that it will resume doing so. The question is only how much damage they will be allowed 
to add to their record before expiring. 

Gandhi used to compare Hinduism and Islam with an older and a younger brother, respectively. 

His effective interpretation of this simile was that the older brother should passively suffer any 
whim of the younger brother, which is neither realistic nor educationally advisable. The simile is 
alright, but its realistic implication is that the older brother should help the younger brother to 
outgrow his childish ways. If he has wisdom and fellow-feeling, he will take into consideration the 
difficulties attending all transition processes. This leads to a somewhat nobler kind of objection 
which I expect some Hindus to raise: think of the complete revolution which de-islamization or de- 
christianization will mean for the people concerned! With their commendable conservatism, Hindus 
are wary of the damage which revolutions tend to cause. 

Jesus and Mohammed and their front soldiers never cared much about the upheaval and destruction 
they wrought; but we need not stoop to their level. As much as possible, the emancipation of 
Muslims and Christians from their belief systems should be an evolutionary rather than a 
revolutionary process. First of all, most customs and rituals and other externals need not be 
tampered with, for they are not what makes these religions objectionable. Ex-Catholics can 
continue to venerate the Madonna, who is but a christianized version of Isis with babe Horus (and 
similar mother-goddesses) anyway. Ex-Muslims can continue to pray five times a day, to watch their 
handpalms while praying, to go on pilgrimage to Mecca (a pre-islamic institution) [2], to fast for a 
month per year (preferably fixed in early spring) [3], and to wear goat-beards. These customs are as 
good as any other. It should be made clear to them that Hinduism has room for these customs and 
rituals, that its objection is only to God's Only-Begotten Son and Allah's Final Prophet. All they 
have to do is get rid of Jesus and Mohammed, and the communal problem will disappear. 

Many people have argued that Muslims cannot convert to Hinduism because no one will want to 
marry their children: for Muslims, they are apostates, and for Hindus, the fact that they have 
declared themselves converts to Hinduism does not make them members of the appropriate caste. 
Christian missionaries used to have this problem in reverse when they tried to lure individual 
Hindus into Christianity. Their solution was to convert entire communities within a short time, so 
that people could go on intermarrying within their own community after conversion. To the extent 
that caste endogamy persists, this is indeed the most practical solution; both the Arya Samaj and the 
VHP claim to have achieved several communal conversions of this type. [4] 

With the modern media and modern education, it should not be difficult to reach the Muslims and 
Christians by the mi lli ons. Once the exodus has started, every emigrant from the faith will persuade 
his friends and relatives, and it will become a mass movement, bringing across whole communities. 
In fact, now already there is a high number of nominal Muslims who have become skeptical of the 
claims of Islam, but who think it wiser in the circumstances to keep quiet about their convictions. 
Ultimately it is they themselves who have to break free, but Hindus can certainly help in creating 
the proper climate. 

In spite of all the sensitivity which you can bring to this, a certain amount of shock will remain 
unavoidable when Muslims or Christians come to realize that they have believed in fairy-tales for all 
these years. Imagine you are a mullah, highly specialized in Sharia jurisprudence, and suddenly you 
realize that this whole Sharia is based on the "model behaviour" of an unimportant individual who 
lived in a distant country long ago, and whose knowledge was far too limited to guide us in the 
problems which we are facing today, even apart from the mental problem which further distorted 
his already limited vision. Your status suddenly cmmbles, you feel like you have wasted the best 
years of your life, you come down to earth and you have to start from scratch. It is like the situation 
of professors of Marxism-Leninism in the former Soviet Bloc, who in 1 989 found that their 
knowledge had become totally useless overnight. 

Dr. Herman Somers, the Flemish ex-Jesuit who made a psychopathological analysis of both Jesus 
and Mohammed, relates how he discovered through his pioneering Bible studies that "Christianity 
was a mistake". [5] It was a painful process to realize that he had wasted so much time on Christian 
theology, a purely imaginary science, and that he had sacrificed so much to his commitments as a 
Jesuit. At the same time, it was a liberation, which had come "better late than never". Millions of 
people in Europe can testify that outgrowing Christian beliefs has been a liberation. 

I am afraid I sound like a Christian missionary when I say that we should help Muslims and 
Christians out of their religions because we love them. The expression sounds patronizing, but 
there is nothing I can do about it: the insight in the wrongness of the Christian and Islamic dogmas 
just happens to be a more advanced stage of knowledge than the belief in their rightness. Therefore, 
we help Christians and Muslims on the way forwards when we make them questions the dogmas of 
their religion. The unbelievers are the elder brother, the believers the younger brother. And it does 
show concern and love for our fellow-men when we help them to outgrow their delusions. 

What, then, is the difference with Francis Xavier who came to free the Indian Pagans from 

Hinduism "because he loved them so much" (as Catholic story-books claim)? If we make 
abstraction from the violent methods which Francis Xavier used and which I reckon Hindus will 
never resort to, we may concede that subjectively, it is the same thing: he thought he was doing 
something good for the Hindus when he converted them to Christianity. But objectively, the cmcial 
difference remains that he converted them into a delusion, while Dr. Somers (through his 
demythologizing books) has converted people out of a delusion. 

Here again, we find that the question of truth cannot be avoided. It makes little sense to discuss 
relations with Christianity and Islam without evaluating their truth claims. When their propagandists 
brandish the values with which superficial Hindus have identified them (charity and egalitarian 
brotherhood, respectively), we can readily concede the desirability of these values, but we must 
point out that these values do not add up to being a Christian or a Muslim; for that, assent to the 
dogmas is necessary. Charity and brotherhood have been in existence for a long time, and we need 
not fear for their disappearance when the last believers free themselves from the religions which 
falsely claim these virtues as their very own contribution. No matter how laudable charity is, that 
does not make Jesus Christ the Messiah. No matter how badly Hindus need an increased sense of 
brotherhood, that does not make the Quran a divine revelation. Another objection could be that 
religion, any religion, is bound up with ethics, and that people will lose their ethics once they lose 
their religion. In my lifetime I've heard this argument used any number of times in defence of 
Christianity, yet the ex-Christians who make up the majority of my generation in my country are 
generally not worse people than their Christian grandparents were. Yet, to support this argument, 
people in India as well as in Muslim countries are sure to point to the West as a resounding 
illustration of the kind of decadence which inevitably follows the loss of religion. It is true that 
many people have been freed from their Christian inhibitions only to dive deeply into hedonism 
and consumerism, and that some lost souls in the cities have abandoned their civic sense, their 
respect for life and property, and their sexual morality along with their Christian beliefs. If anyone 
should be blamed for this, we should not forget the responsibility of Christian clerics who have 
propagated the notion that Christianity and morality are equivalent (the identification of their new 
Christian belief with age-old values being a trick to give Christianity more respectability among 
prospective converts) [6], and that fear of punishment in the hereafter is the only way to keep people 
on the right path. 

The challenge before responsible people in regions where people lose the faith in large numbers, is 
to guide the masses in rediscovering their natural religiosity and their natural sense of ethics, to 
rebuild what Christianity has destroyed but was unable to replace in the long run. To quite an 
extent, this is already happening, and it goes without saying that Asian religions (Hinduism, 
Buddhism and Taoism) are providing the main though not the only guiding light. The loss of belief 
in Christ or Mohammed does not mean the loss of the religious feeling, on the contrary. Indeed, the 
often rationalist argumentation of the Arya Samaj's shuddhi activists was never meant to free 
Muslims and Christians from religion altogether, but to make them more accessible for the Vedic 
message. Yes, there is life after Christianity and Islam, even an ethical and religious life. In the West 
right now, there is a tremendous religious seeking, people groping in the dark but usually ending up 
with the great traditions from Asia in a suitably adapted form. 

In the case of Indian Muslims and Christians, such a development would be entirely logical, though 
I can imagine that many Muslims who see themselves as the progeny of Central-Asian conquerors 
would opt for alternatives to mainstream Hinduism, such as Buddhism or Zoroastrianism (both of 
which are going through a remarkable revival in the Altaic-speaking and Iranian-speaking parts of 
the former Soviet Union). That is quite alright, for what is needed is a struggle for religious freedom 
against dogmatic belief systems; not trying to pull them into your own shop but encouraging them 
to find out for themselves. 

A very optimistic objection could be that Hindu society need not bother about Christianity and 
Islam, because the thrust of their historical aggression against Hinduism is weakening and will 
weaken further in the future. It has happened before: while Communists were plotting the death of 
Hinduism and the dismemberment of India, the Hindutva movement did very little to counter 
Communism, yet Communism collapsed under its own failures in its very stronghold. Christianity 
has suffered major losses in America and staggering losses in Europe, and even Islam which now 
seems such a formidable steamroller may be undermined by emerging freethinkers from among its 
own ranks. One day, Hindus may wake up and find that the missionaries have left, the petrodollars 
gone, the mosques turned into goshalas, who knows? 

Unfortunately, luck does not usually come to those who count on luck to save them. The 
circumstances in South Asia, barring a Hindu awakening, are quite encouraging for anti-Hindu 
predators. As the late Girilal Jain once told me, "nothing ever dies in India", and I could well 
imagine a situation of Islam and Christianity dying out in their homelands while thriving in India 
(cfr. Communism which is more alive in Calcutta and JNU than in Beijing let alone Moscow). Of 
course, the ultimate disappearance of untenable belief systems is a mathematical certainty, but 
before they go, they can still do tremendous damage to the continuity of Hindu tradition. Look at 
Nepal, till recently entirely Hindu-Buddhist, and how Islamic infiltrators and Christian missionaries 
are fast changing the religious landscape there. 

In Hindutva publications, I read triumphal reports about Hindu reconversions in tribal areas, but to 
me they sound like the blustering triumphalism of the Marathas before the battle of Panipat. 

Indeed, other people working in tribal areas tell me that the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram and like- 
minded initiatives, in spite of their sincere and commendable efforts, just can't compete with the 
well-organized and heavily financed Christian missions. The Organiser itself recendy carried a 
headline: "Conversion assumes alarming proportions". [7] Whatever their problems in the West, the 
missionaries can still do tremendous damage to the continuity of Hindu tradition and to the fabric 
of the Indian state. 

Some people object that what we need is not the conversion of Muslims and Christians to a native 
religion, but simply the dilution of their fanaticism. They point to a few Christian theologians who 
follow the vogue in certain Western theological faculties, which is to assert that all religions are part 
of God's salvation plan. In practice: let's leave them to their deluded faith in imaginary divine 
revelations and only-begotten sons, as long as they stop attacking us. 

First of all, I have my doubts about the acceptance of these deluded faiths, even if they are not 

immediately harmful to third parties. Though the Bahai sect is not persecuting people, the belief in 
the Mohammed-like pretensions of its founders (along with the continued belief in Jesus' and 
Mohammed's prophethood) remains a profoundly sad mistake, one in which I cannot want my 
fellow-men to remain entrapped. In the Yedic phrase, "let us ennoble the world", let us not leave 
areas of darkness shielded off against the light. 

Secondly, I do not see much of this softening in the Indian chapters of Christianity and Islam. 
Apologists like Rafiq Zakaria and Asghar Ali Engineer like to present a human face of Islam, but 
they do so simply by lying and by concealing and denying the hard facts of Islamic Scripture and 
history; they never make any concession or show any sympthy for other religions and for the plight 
of the persecuted Hindus in Islamic states and provinces. Even those few Muslims who are 
sincerely trying to redefine Islam as a tolerant faith carry no conviction: their tolerant version of 
Islam can never be more than an unstable transitory phase, either out of Islam altogether or back 
towards the genuine intolerant Islam. 

Among Christians, the trend towards genuine religious pluralism does exist, but in India it concerns 
only a microscopic minority. I have heard Swayamsevaks assert that the Christians in South India 
have become much less hostile, "for they are now giving Hindu first names to their children". But 
with my inside contacts and my close watch on Christian media and scholarship, I know for fact 
that this change in fashion does not represent a change of heart. For a first test, how many 
Christians who have named their children Rama or Sita have supported the Ayodhya temple 
movement? The historical fact that their ancestors enjoyed the hospitality of the Hindus (as against 
the persecution by rival Christian sects in the Roman Empire and by the Mazdean state religion in 
Iran) only makes their animosity against Hindus more bitter; people tend to hate those to whom 
they owe a debt. Moreover, even if we assume that dilution of Christianity and Islam down to a 
non-offensive level of commitment is the desirable goal, history testifies that this goal has been 
reached in Europe through a frontal attack on Christianity itself. It is no coincidence that 
Christianity has mellowed in the last two centuries just when it was put to scrutiny by scholars and 
driven from its political and educational power positions by secularists (in the genuine sense). 

If you flatter Islam, saying that it is a religion of peace and brotherhood, this will not cure the 
believers of their self-righteousness; rather, it will make them ask why you aren't becoming a 
Muslim yourself. But if you expose Islam, saying that it is a deluded belief and intrinsically fanatical, 
it will make apologists search the Quran for verses dimly alluding to tolerance, it will make them 
write textbooks mendaciously proclaiming that Islam has always been tolerant and for all their 
dishonesty, they will thereby implicidy be extolling the virtue of tolerance. This is indeed what we 
do see happening with apologists like Wahiduddin Khan, Rafiq Zakaria or Asghar Ali Engineer: 
even a small amount of writing about Islamic fanaticism by Western scholars and journalists (while 
in those circles too, flattery of Islam is the fashion) has sent them looking for proof that Islam is 
tolerant. If you are satisfied with mellowing Islam down, you have every reason to join the project 
of a fundamental and uncompromising criticism of Islamic doctrine and history. 

A more or less valid objection is that challenging the truth claims of Islam and Christianity will 
provoke polemical attacks on Hinduism and (even worse) genuine doubts among Hindus about 

their own religion. However, the anti-Hindu polemic is already there, Christian missionaries have 
been very active at it ever since their arrival, and secularists and Muslims have started their own 
variety since a few decades; on that count, Hindus already have nothing to lose. But I do admit that 
a critical look at other religions may feel uncomfortable for Hindus who are not used to critical 
thought. If Mohammed who heard a voice from heaven was just hallucinating, what shall we say 
about some of the bhakti saints who dressed up like women to be united with the divine lover 
Krishna, or who would hang in trees monkey-like to impersonate Hanuman? 

Hindu tradition is based on the experience of sages, sane men and women who observed the world 
and explored consciousness. As the Hindu Renaissance spokesmen were fond of asserting, its basis 
is scientific. This does not mean that it is related to the latest scientific theories in physics, many of 
which are bound to be superseded by new theories, nor that the Vedas contain descriptions of 
modern machines, as imaginative writers have tried to prove. [8] It means that its approach is 
scientific: the Vedic truths are verifiable, universal and repeatable, not dependent on the views of 
privileged individuals ("prophets") but apaurusheya, "impersonal". 

Hindus should get serious about the Constitutional injunction to "develop the scientific temper", 
one of the few truly Hindu elements in the secular Constitution. If that means that some of the 
superstitious deadwood which Hinduism has accumulated over the centuries is doomed to fall by 
the wayside, so much the better. The scientific oudook is deadly to the core beliefs of Islam and 
Christianity, but Hindus should welcome it as a somewhat neglected pillar of their own tradition 
whose time has come once more. It is not impossible that mentally afflicted individuals have been 
attracted to the religious role, particularly in the exaltation-prone Bhakti movement, and that the 
talented ones among them have acquired some fame as poets, but this does not affect the 
mainstream of Sanatana Dharma, which is not dependent on any one individual authority. 

Very imperfect individuals can find a meaningful place for themselves in this tradition, but to assess 
the value of this tradition it must be considered in its entirety, not just the viewpoints of individual 
poets or gurus. This ought to be an occasion to address one of the most serious problems afflicting 
contemporary Hinduism: sectarianism. One of the additional reasons why many Hindus including 
these travelling salesmen of enlightenment whom we get to see in the West do not call themselves 
Hindu, is that their knowledge horizon does not go beyond the teachings of their own guru. It is 
high time that the teaching of Hinduism is reoriented to a comprehensive view of the tradition. 

Some BJP men argue that it is not the task of a political party to wage an ideological struggle. I 
wonder what the Communists would say about that. At any rate, the Sangh is a family, a house with 
many mansions, and it certainly has an appropriate department for this kind of work. Indeed, the 
VHP now already claims to do just this kind of work, viz. to reconvert Muslim communities which 
have not lost touch with their Hindu heritage entirely. Some people even within the Sangh are 
privately expressing doubts about these conversions, doubts which are aggravated by the lack of 
reliable record-keeping; for all its omnipresence, the Sangh and its affiliates are totally unable to 
provide facts and figures about conversions into and out of Hinduism. 

Apart from the conversion business, facing and speaking the tmth about hostile religions is most of 
all an urgent necessity within Hindu activist circles. The BJP and every Sangh-affiliated 
organizations has ideological training sessions for its own cadres, and it is there, rather than in face- 
to-face talks with the minorities, that the servile flattery of Islam and Christianity has to be flushed 
out first. It is inside the BJP office, with no Muslim or secularist listening, that I heard BJP 
"ideologues" repeat the worn-out Congress lies about the British being guilty of pitting Islam 
against Hinduism. The present situation is not — as secularist media routinely allege — that Hindus 
among themselves are facing the truth about these predatory religions, only to flatter them in public 
out of tactical calculations. The secularists suspect that the BJP's public virtue of professed 
secularism hides a private vice of communalism, I have noticed many times that this public flattery 
of Christianity and Islam is very much based on genuine convictions, on eager self-deception. At 
this point, I am not asking the BJP to speak boldly to the Muslims and the secularists; for now, they 
will be doing their duty if they stop deceiving their own cadres and voters. 

At the same time, the BJP need not postpone a bolder stand longer than necessary. A look at the 
standard practice among non-Hindus shows that there is nothing insupportable about a politician 
publicly mocking a religion. In Belgium, it is not uncommon that socialist or liberal politicians 
openly express their anti-Christian convictions, making jokes about Catholic superstitions, all while 
sitting in coalition governments with the Christian-Democrats. The Muslims openly express their 
adherence to Islam, a doctrine which is intrinsically hostile to Hinduism. They openly testify that 
"there is no God but Allah", meaning that Hindus are all profoundly wrong. So what? 

At this point, the BJP spokesman will come out with his trump objection: "But criticizing Islam is 
dangerous! People have been murdered for doing just that!" This, I cannot deny. One of these 
murders, that of Arya Samaj writer Pandit Lekh Ram, was the reason for British-imposed legal 
curbs on the freedom to criticize Islam; after that, some Arya Samaj writers have been prosecuted 
under these laws, others (most famously Swami Shraddhananda) have been murdered by Muslim 
militants in the 1920s and 30s, to the applause of the whole Muslim clergy. Ever since, Arya Samaj 
polemic against Islam has become muted, which proves the efficiency of terrorism. But then, even 
in today's atmosphere of Hindu sarva-dharma-samabhava and Islamic arrogance, I slam- friendly 
Hindu activists including BJP men are already being killed by Muslims, without any gain in return. 
Swami Shraddhananda at least died for something, for the freedom of Hindus to liberate their 
estranged countrymen by informing them of the truth about Islam; if the BJP abandons that right, 
its martyrs have died in vain. 

Moreover, the general opinion climate can be changed. Naguib Mahfouz has described how in his 
young days, more than fifty years ago, Islam was seen by the Egyptian middle-class as a relic from 
the past. People could openly mock Islamic beliefs, there was no question of being punished for 
that. Since then, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction (after a near-mortal attack on his 
person in 1994, Mahfouz himself had to go in hiding), but it will swing back. Hindus including BJP 
men can contribute to this change of climate by defying the Emergency which Islam has clamped 
on India, and by publicly breaking the taboo on criticism of Islam. It will be shocking to the first 
speaker to hear himself utter unspeakable things like: "I reject the belief in Quranic revelation", but 
with time and practice, it will become easier. 

It should be kept in mind that ideological confrontation is the best and ultimately the only way to 
prevent physical confrontation. A few hotheads may initially try to "punish" the questioning of 
Islamic doctrine, but this is bound to remain a marginal problem. The really frightening prospect is 
the huge riots and the civil war which history has in store for India if the predatory religions are 
allowed to grab even more of India's population and territory for themselves. Therefore, they have 
to be exposed. 

Ultimately, the tmth is unstoppable. Heliocentrism and other breakthroughs to modern science had 
their martyrs, such as Giordano Bruno and, in a limited way, Galileo Galilei, but ultimately 
geocentrism could not hold out against the intrinsic superiority of heliocentrism. Like snow before 
sunshine, like darkness before dawn, dogmatic beliefs are bound to give way once they are exposed 
to the light of reason — and of the Vedic vision. 

[1] It is precisely this modest and mature view of truth which underlies Hindu pluralism. As David 
Frawley has convincingly argued, the central value of Hinduism is not "tolerance" (as interested 
parties try to make Hindus believe) but truth. Yet, this does not lead to the quasi-monotheistic 
triumphalism and intolerance which characterizes 19th-century- type positivism (e.g. the ill-informed 
condemnation of Ayurveda and other traditional forms of medicine by academic medicine), but to a 
sensitive respect for different levels and expressions of truth. 

[2] Of course, they should restore the proper direction of walking around the Kaaba. The Pagan 
parikrama is made in the direction of the planetary motions, i.e. (in the northern hemisphere) 
clockwise, but Mohammed reversed it in order to prove his non-Paganism. A side-effect is that in 
contrast with the Pagans, Muslims point their left hand to the Kaaba, the one which they consider 
unclean because they wipe their bottoms with it. 

[3] Diet specialists advise early spring as the best time for fasting, and this was also the Christian 
and Pagan-Arab custom (Ramadan /Ramzan was the ninth month in a solilunar year beginning ca. 1 
July, roughly coinciding with March), but Mohammed jeopardized this healthy custom by tampering 
with the calendar, so that the month of fasting can fall in midwinter of summer as well. 

[4] It may of course be an occasion to rethink this practice. Anyway, who has the facts and figure 
about caste discrimination among Hindutva activists in their private lives? Both they and their 
enemies ought to be interested in these data. 

[5] Dr. Somers' books are only available in Dutch, but a summary of his Bible analysis is given in K. 
Elst: Psychology of Prophetism (Voice of India 1992). An English summary of his findings on 
Mohammed is in preparation. 

[6] In his Ten Commandments, Moses already plays this trick by juxtaposing his own innovations 
(monotheism, aniconic cult, taboo on God's name) with long-established norms (respect for 
parents, chastity etc.). The Quran too has many passages where belief in Mohammed's message is 
mentioned in one breath with traditional virtues, as if there were a necessary connection between 
the two. Naive preachers deduce from such passages that Mohammed had been the first to 

propagate these virtues and that the Pagan Arabs were bereft of morality. 

[7] Contributed by M.G. Vaidya, Organiser, 2 March 1997. It is significant that, as a close reader of 
RSS publications since seven years, I have never come across any kind of report listing actual data 
about gains and losses on the conversion front. Any modern organization going about such a 
serious and large-scale project (e.g. the Christian missions) sets up fact-finding missions and an 
information-gathering network so as to know exacdy what the challenges are and how the project is 
faring; not so the saviours of Hinduism, who think they can do without this. 

[8] All the same, it is relevant that Vedic seers were pioneers in the sciences of astronomy, 
mathematics and linguistics, just as some Taoists contributed to physical science and technology, as 
a consequence of their conviction that these domains of reality were pregnant with a transcendent 
quality. This is much in contrast with Jesus and Mohammed and their companions, who had 
nothing to offer to science except incomprehension and persecution. 

23. Conclusion 

In spite of Hinduism's nominal magnitude, the chance that Hinduism gets wiped out by its enemies 
can no longer be discounted. More than ever, fortunes are spent on the war to destroy Hinduism in 
favour of Islam or some suitably adapted variety of Christianity or Marxism. The hostile activities of 
Islamic and Christian agitators and the attempts at Hindu demoralization and loss of Hindu self- 
respect by the secularists are now compounded by a fast-spreading loss of Hindu memory at the 
mass level by consumerism and Western pulp media. I have seen with my own eyes how local 
cultures within European civilization are being as good as wiped out in a few decades by the 
onslaught of mindless "Americanism", and this loss of cultural roots is a major factor in the current 
defencelessness of the affected populations vis-a-vis the rising threat of Islam. Hindus would be 
mistaken to think that this cannot happen to their old civilization; most civilizations at the time of 
their demise were old and venerable. For Hinduism too, time is running out. 

The seriousness of the situation should first of all concern the Hindus themselves. Come to think of 
it, I have very lithe personal stake in the political success of Hindu revivalism and the continued 
existence of Hinduism. Of course, there is an invaluable heritage contained in the Upanishads and 
other Hindu books; but they are available in Western libraries, we can take from them what we like 
without needing the help of a living Hindu. It was a comforting idea to know that at least one 
ancient society had managed to preserve its traditions down to the present, but if that society fails 
to defend itself and disappears, I am confident that we can find our way without it. If Sanskrit 
scholarship or yogic expertise dies in India, I am sure some aficianados in the West will keep it alive 
as a matter of antiquarian hobbyism, somewhat like the thriving clubs for amateurs long-dead 
Pharaonic lore. It is always deplorable when a dinosaur dies, but we can survive the demise of 
really-existing Hinduism without serious losses. Whether Hinduism will survive as a living 
civilization in control of its own territory, or merely as a museum piece, is a vital concern only for 
the Hindus themselves. 

The issue is the survival of the besieged Hindu civilization. The stakes are high, and the question is 
whether Hindus intend to go for the big one or settle for less. A general rule for this type of 
situation is that if you aim high and put in an effort commensurate with the calibre of your goal, 
you may achieve it. Even if you don't achieve it, you may still achieve a number of lesser objectives 
as a spin-off of your effort. But if you aim low, your enthusiasm and hence your effort will be 
proportionately limited, so the chance is a priori small that you will achieve anything more than 
your limited goal. Further, your enemies will try to thwart your little efforts with as much zeal as 
they would your big efforts, so you may still fail to achieve what you intended to. If the Hindu 
movement continues to aim for petty gains and peripheral achievements, it will continue to fail in its 
real task, and even the hoped-for petty successes may continue to elude it. 

If the Hindutva politicians and activists want to spare themselves the prospect of going down in 
history as a bunch of buffoons, who stood by and worked on inconsequential things while their 
country was taken over by their mortal enemies, they will have to get their act together quickly. 

Instead of wasting energy on petty politicking and limited goals such as the reconversion of sacred 
sites, all eyes should be set on the major goal, which is the liberation of fellow Indians from the 
predatory religions which have alienated them from their ancestral culture. The goal could in fact be 
set even higher, so as to include among other things the emancipation of the West-Asians and the 
liberation of the Kaaba (a temple to Hubal, the Arab Shiva) from Islam; but it will already be good 
if the self-styled vanguard of Hindu society can save its own people and country. 

There is nothing "fundamentalist" or "fascist" about this. The emancipation of fellow Indian from 
closed creeds is a very humane and responsible project. It could best be summed up in the motto 
with which the Muslim-born humanist Ibn Warraq opens his book Why I Am Not a Muslim: "The 
best thing we can do for Muslims is to free them from Islam." More concretely, it is the only way to 
avoid the extremely bloody conflagrations which are sure to break out if the Muslim and Christian 
agitators smell victory in ever-larger sections of the country. As they smell blood, they will become 
more openly and more fiercely aggressive and Hindus will not go down without a fight; the 
subsequent loss of life should not be minimized as just one more of those inevitables in history. 

The ideologies which pit believer against unbeliever should be neutralized before they can add some 
more achievements to their ugly record. 

As part of this great project, smaller projects such as a Common Civil Code or the restoration of 
some Hindu sacred sites may be legitimate steps on the way, depending on the circumstances, and 
even temporary compromises with the hostile forces may be justified in certain cases; but the final 
goal should be kept uppermost in everyone's mind. In the case of the organized Hindutva 
movement, there is reason to fear that amid all its campaigns for limited demands it has lost the 
awareness of the larger challenge. Today, when you question Hindutva leaders and ideologues about 
their puzzling policy of kowtowing before Mohammed and Nehru, the typical answer is that this is 
all part of a very very clever strategy which you unfortunately haven't understood yet. Admittedly, 
victorious strategists have often started out with seemingly self-defeating moves which their 
underlings didn't understand but which produced the desired results in the long run. Let the 
Hindutva spokesmen ask themselves if their own clever tricks have this calibre, and whether they 
are really outwitting their enemies rather than themselves. 

Appendix: A Reply to Kanchan 

On 14 and 15 January 1997, the Observer of Business and Politics published a reply by Kanchan 
Gupta to my own two-part article, "BJP retreat on Ayodhya", on which the present booklet is 
based. I do not know what Kanchan Gupta's exact relation with the BJP is; I have met him several 
times at the BJP office and assume that he is a BJP supporter though not from an RSS background. 
It deserves mention and praise that the article is polite and to the point, two qualities which are the 
exception rather than the rule in communalism-related debates in India. 

After summarizing my critique, he starts by telling the readers that "Mr. Elst's critique stems from a 
certain sympathy, if not concern, for the BJP". This is and remains tme: I still believe that a BJP 
Government would be a relatively good thing for India, and it makes me sad to see that a lot of 
potential in the broader Hindu revivalist movement is wasted because of the ideological confusion 
in the party which was meant to be its political spearhead. 

Coming to my view on the BJP's hesitant and shifting stand on the Ayodhya issue, Mr. Gupta 
suggests that it is "simplistic" and "based on rather superficial knowledge of actual events and 
facts". So, for my benefit as well as that of the reader, he recapitulates the history of the Ayodhya 
affair. He argues that from 1528 (construction of Babri Masjid) until after the opening of the 
building for general worship of the idols in 1986, "the movement to regain Ram Janmabhoomi 
from illegal Muslim occupation was nothing more than articulation of Hindu religious aspiration 
and assertion of pious faith over blind zealotry". It became politicized after the 1986 court verdict 
due to Muslim and secularist agitations against the full restoration of the Ram Janmabhoomi 
temple: "It was then that the BJP stepped in and strengthened the movement by converting it into a 
mass agitation aimed at reasserting the very ethos of Indian nationalism — hence the appeal to 
Indians to choose between Babar the invader and Ram the national hero, to choose between a 
monument to India's subjugation and a temple in honour of Indian nationhood." 

I understand from this that Kanchan Gupta fully supports the rhetorical shift from a religious 
Hindu-Muslim conflict to a conflict between nationalism and anti-national forces. Let me point out 
that many Christian monuments, some of which have become "national" monuments as well, stand 
on the destroyed pre-Christian places of worship of the nations concerned. Had Islam prevailed in 
India, the Babri Masjid would stand as a national monument celebrating the Indian nation's 
liberation from idolatry. Whether the Babri Masjid was national or anti-national entirely depends on 
fate's choice between two religions: it is only as long as Hinduism prevails that the Babri Masjid 
counts as an anti-national monument. Whichever way you turn it, the basic conflict remains one 
between Hinduism and Islam, and twisting it to make it look like something else serves no good 

Kanchan Gupta has a valid point when he describes how the Muslim leadership had been 
emboldened by its victory in the Shah Bano dispute, where it had made the Government change the 
law to overrule a Supreme Court verdict disagreeable to the Islamic orthodoxy. It tried to repeat this 
feat in the Ayodhya affair: force the Government to overrule the 1986 Court verdict opening the 
disputed building for Hindu worship. "Perhaps they would have succeeded had not the BJP stepped 
in and put Ayodhya first on its own and the nation's agenda. Suffice it to say, contrary to what Mr. 
Elst claims, this was no reluctant decision, but a choice exercised voluntarily because the party was 
(and remains) alert to Hindu concerns." 

A somewhat academic point is whether it is indeed best to have one party as champion of a given 
cause, rather than to stay aloof from all parties while pressurizing all of them and forcing them to 
compete for your constituency's support. In this case, it seems to me that at least the Congress 
Party would have been much more sympathetic to the Hindu position on Ayodhya, and much less 
tied to the Communist-dominated anti-Hindu front, if the Ayodhya demand had not gotten so 
identified with the BJP. The then Congress leader, Rajiv Gandhi (unlike the "secular 
fundamentalists" who claim his legacy, like M.J. Akbar and Mani Shankar Aiyar), was a modern and 
practical man, and he was definitely ready to allow the construction of the Ram Janmabhoomi 
temple in return for some sop to the Muslim leadership, just to get it over with and move on to 
more tangible issues. I don't know if the identification of the Ayodhya demand with the BJP could 
have been avoided (through the RSS, the VHP and its Ayodhya campaign were already linked with 
the BJP anyway), but serious strategists should analyze all the factors of success and failure 
including the alternatives which we can discern with the benefit of hindsight. 

Now the main point: the BJP was "alert to Hindu concerns" and hence not reluctant to embrace the 
Ayodhya demand. To corroborate this, Kanchan Gupta quotes from two BJP statements made in 
1989, which are in themselves quite unobjectionable (though they contain the term "Hindu 
sentiments" too many times). He summarizes them as focussing on "cultural nationalism, or 
Hindutva" and on the fact that "India may be more than Hinduism but it cannot be less". And to 
top it all, L.K. Advani's excellent statement is quoted: "We represent the commitment that this is 
our ancient nation, not a nation born in 1947, but a nation which has a hoary past and whose 
culture is essentially Hindu." Yes, the BJP of 1989 was a great party. There is no doubt that its 
activists wholeheartedly supported the Ayodhya demand, but it remains uncertain whether the 
leadership's temporary enthusiasm sprang from something better than opportunism. Of course, the 
leadership is a fairly large group with different tendencies with different degrees of commitment on 
Ayodhya and other Hindu issues. 

Kanchan Gupta maintains that the BJP is still committed to the construction of the temple. About 
the demolition, it was "regrettable that the famed discipline of the Sangh Parivar failed to withstand 
the furor of Hindu disquiet", but there was no regret over "the collapse of the domes". I have no 
quarrel with that. I can also understand that the BJP has tried to re -widen its focus and profile after 
the Ayodhya drama, and it is even possible that the issue will be solved in a just way without further 
political interference. Indeed, after half a century of deliberations, and in spite of perennial political 
pressures on the judges, the Allahabad High Court might still do justice to the Hindus. After all, the 
Hindus have a cast-iron case, and the judges do seem sensitive to the historical and juridical facts of 

the matter (as I was told by Dr. B.R. Grover and Dr. S.P. Gupta, whose expert testimonies on the 
old revenue records and on the archaeological evidence have been heard by the said Court). 

As a matter of principle, one should not make too much of the Ayodhya controversy. The Hindu 
position is the right one and the issue is important as a symbol,— but not more than that. If the 
party feels it can achieve more important things for Hindu society by keeping Ayodhya in the 
background for a while, that could be the right decision. But what is the BJP's record in the post- 
Demolition years? 

Mr. Gupta moves on to the evaluation of the 13-day (14-day in his count) BJP Government, the 
hottest fortnight of 1996. He argues that at least at the level of rhetoric, this was undeniably the 
most nationalistic and the most unapologetically Hindu Government since 1947: announcing a ban 
on cow- slaughter, the "liberal" Vajpayee declaring that India is secular not in spite of but because of 
its Hindu majority, and... well, that's it, these two points. Gupta claims that this bold articulation of 
cultural nationalism "made the opponents of this philosophy look silly", and that it was the very 
opposite of "crawling in the dust", which was my description of the BJP leadership's typical attitude 
vis-a-vis the secularists. 

I am not aware of any occasion during that fortnight when the secularists looked silly to an 
objective observer. They looked mean and wrong-headed, because that is what they are, but their 
success in closing ranks againt the BJP Government and in dictating the terms of public discourse 
including Vajpayee's speech (which extolled "secularism", very much their term) can hardly be 
described as silly. The expression "looking silly" reminds me rather of that occasion a few years ago 
when a member of the national BJP leadership proposed the "Mahatma Gandhi formula" for a 
compromise on Ayodhya, compromise which amounted to a return of the Muslim-occupied Hindu 
sites to the Hindus. The reference he made to a particular issue of one of Gandhi's weeklies had not 
been verified, the said issue turned out not to exist (publication of the paper had been stopped years 
before the date given), and Gandhi had never proposed such a formula. The BJP had made 
Ayodhya its number one campaign issue, yet it had not bothered to verify a wild claim which any 
secularist journalist could debunk at short notice. On a silver platter, the party handed its enemies 
the chance to dispense with their usual lies and to speak the truth while exposing a Hindutva 
leader's attempted deceit. Of course, their claim that this incident showed the unscrupled 
Goebbelsian mentality of the BJP was self-serving hyperbole; what it did show instead was the silly 
thoughdessness of the Hindutva leaders, innocents abroad in the real world of politics. 

Kanchan Gupta then explains that the BJP Government had not really retreated from its 
commitment to abrogate Article 370 concerning Kashmir: since it did not have the two-thirds 
majority needed to amend the Constitution, it was simply unable to fulfil this promise, and 
admitting this was but a matter of honesty and realism. Of course, I am aware that a BJP majority 
Government would be unable to realize the distinctive points of its programme (except by 
persuading others to join it on specific points), and it would already have been a great success if the 
party had merely stayed in power, just to break the taboo on the very idea of a BJP Government. 
But Panun Kashmir, the Kashmiri refugee organization, well-placed to evaluate the exact impact of 
Vajpayee's statements on the Kashmir situation, thought it necessary to rebuke the BJP for its 

"betrayal" of the cause of Kashmir's full integration in India. It announced that apparently no 
political party except the Shiv Sena could be tmsted to uphold the rights of the Kashmiri Hindus. I 
confess that my information on Vajpayee's plans for Kashmir was incomplete; but Gupta need not 
bother about convincing an outsider like myself, I will automatically believe him when he has 
convinced the Kashmiri refugees. 

Gupta admits that "it remains a fact that the BJP cannot look forward to majority Muslim support", 
that "it cannot but depend on the Hindu vote for electoral success", and that "to disown this fact 
would amount to disowning the party's raison d'etre", but defends Advani's vote of thanks to the 
Muslim voters, made during the party's national executive meeting in Goa. I had quoted the 
grumbling of some BJP workers against Advani's thanking the Muslim voters but never the Hindu 
voters as such, though he owes his political career to the latter. Gupta replies: "The very fact that 
Mr. Advani 'thanked' Muslims for voting BJP — never mind that probably one in a thousand 
Muslim voters stamped the party symbol on the ballot paper — was indicative of the paradigm shift 
in Moslim opinion post December 6, 1992. The belligerence that marked the boycott of Republic 
Day celebrations in 1988 had first given way to disbelief as the disputed structure came crashing 
down and then to acceptance of majoritarian sentiments at the time of polls. That a Muslim 
delegation called on the BJP-Shiv Sena Government and sought to work in tandem with the Hindu 
right signifies a political victory unparalleled in India's post-Mughal history." 

Really, I don't object to Advani thanking the Muslim voters, for his making this communal 
distinction in the electorate merely reflects reality. If Muslims vote for the BJP rather than for anti- 
national parties, it does amount to a substantial step in the right direction, away from Islamic 
separatism. But to say that the visit of a Muslim lobby group to the BJP/SS government in Mumbai 
is a "political victory unparalleled in India's post-Mughal history" is a wild exaggeration. I am sure 
that the Muslim delegation to the BJP/SS government was quite explicit about its intention to 
safeguard Muslim interests, not national let alone Hindu interests. Rather than being a spectacular 
innovation, Muslim kowtows before the existing powers for the sake of safeguarding the Muslim 
interests is an old tradition; it was tried out with roaring success by the Muslim League for 41 years 
from the time of its foundation down to the time of Partition. 

Gupta's reference to the apparent loss of belligerence among the Muslims since 1993, when the 
post-Demolition riots died down, calls for an explanation. About the facts themselves there can be 
no doubt, or in Asghar Ali Engineer's words: "Before the Babri demolition it was said a riot a day 
takes place in India. But since 1993 this position has drastically changed. (...) Organising riots does 
not seem to be a paying proposition at least for the present." [1] Gupta seems to be claiming the 
credit on behalf of his party, but most Hindutva activists I know are united in giving the credit to 
the Kar Sevaks: it was their simplistic and illiterate action which made clear to the Muslim riot- 
mongers that there is a limit to Hindu patience. 

Let us finally address the truly worrying part of Kanchan Gupta's article, about "this last thing of 
recommending that the BJP should adopt a new two-point agenda of freeing Hindu temples from 
Government control and amending Article 30 in order to allow Hindu institutions the same benefits 
as those controlled by minorities". I am indeed in favour of a refocussing of the communal dispute 

to points of legal and constitutional discrimination against the Hindus, such as the Minorities' 
Commission and the special status of Kashmir, Mizoram and Nagaland. A top priority should be 
the abolition of the discrimination sanctioned by Article 30, which allows "minorities" to set up and 
administer their own educational institutions, in their own communal interest but with Government 

Gupta duly notes that the BJP "has articulated its views on Article 30 in its Manifesto: 'Ensure 
equality for all and discrimination against none on grounds of religion in matters of education by 
amending Article 30.'" This could be done by adjusting the Hindu rights upwards or the minorities' 
rights downwards. My impression so far was that the BJP had in mind the extension to the Hindus 
of the privileges conceded to the minorities; that is at least what BJP experts like Justice Rama Jois 
had told me. It is remarkable that the BJP Manifesto is ambiguous about this; this may well be due 
to the influence of people like Kanchan Gupta. For indeed, and to my surprise, Mr. Gupta's 
position is this: "The solution, from a particular perspective, lies in adopting a radical approach to 
the problem, scrapping Article 30 in its entirety, not merely amending it to include in its scope 
Hindu institutions, for the latter approach could only enlarge the realm of malpractices as are 
evident in minority-managed institutions." 

I had already noted in my own article that a downward equalization, stripping the minorities of their 
privileges, would cause a revolt among the minorities with international support, a crisis which the 
present BJP is incapable of handling. It seems that my warning has not impressed him; I must have 
underestimated the BJP's metde. Well, I wish the BJP a whole lot of good luck if it wants to cut into 
the Christian and Muslim positions; it will have to face the pandemonium of their muscle -money- 
media power. 

But the breath-taking surprise in Gupta's position lies elsewhere. Here is a BJP spokesman who 
considers Hindus incapable of honestly administering their own colleges: if Hindus are given the 
same rights as Muslims and Christians, this will only lead to more "malpractices". For similar 
reasons, my own "suggestion that the BJP should campaign for the state's retreat from the 
management of Hindu temples" is rejected as being "not an acceptable proposition". On the 
contrary, "the BJP should be in the forefront of the demand for state intervention to facilitate social 
and religious reform". 

Follows a list of laws exclusively affecting the Hindus, which are described as beneficial, to the 
extent that today, "Hindu women are far better off than Muslim or Christian women" and "Hindu 
society [is] able to compete successfully in a modern world": Sati Regulation of 1829, Hindu Widow 
Remarriage Act of 1856, Age of Consent Bill, Travancore Royal Declaration on all-caste temple 
entry (in this list the only law imposed by a Hindu state), and the four Acts of Parliament of 1955- 
56 constituting the Hindu Code. With reference to a court case in which Brahmins had 
unsuccessfully challenged the appointment of an Ezhava as temple priest, Gupta notes: "Had there 
not been a Travancore Devaswom Board, an Ezhava would never have made it to Priesthood and 
the Travancore Royal Declaration of the 1930s on temple entry would have remained a forgotten 
edict." Therefore, the BJP should continue the line taken by the Hindu Religious Endowments 
Commission (1960, led by Sir C.P. Ramaswamy Aiyer), which opted for "the speedy enactment of 

legislation for Government supervision of temples in States where there was no such law"; minor 
improvements may be made on the model of the law governing the Vaishnodevi shrine in Jammu. 

For Gupta, if anything, the BJP should work for the implementation of the second, never- 
implemented recommendation of the same commission: to extend this form of state control to the 
places of worship of the minorities. Once more, Kanchan Gupta wants to solve the existing 
inequality by stripping the minorities of their privileges rather than by extending these to the Hindu 
majority. I repeat my warning that this would probably cause a communal upheaval which a BJP 
Government could not handle. [2] But the most remarkable point about Gupta's plea for more state 
intervention in education and temple management is not its recklessness, but its stark disavowal of 
everything the RSS Parivar stands for. 

One of the beautiful things about the Sangh Parivar is its active belief in civil self-organization 
rather than state intervention. The BJS opposed the Hindu Code Bill, not because it opposed 
reform (as Swami Karpatri's Ram Rajya Parishad did), but because it rejected interference by a 
secular state in internal Hindu affairs. The 1951 BJS Manifesto was unambiguous: "Hindu Code 
Bill. The party holds that social reform should not come as imposition from above. It should work 
from within the society. Any far-reaching changes as envisaged in the Hindu Code Bill, therefore, 
should not be made unless there is a strong popular demand for them and a clear verdict is obtained 
from the electorate." [3] And now Gupta tells us that Hindu society by itself is incapable of reform, 
that the RSS project has failed, that it could never have succeeded anyway, and that only coercion 
by the Nehruvian state could implement the reforms which the RSS pretends to work for. Maybe 
Gupta is right, but in that case the Sangh Parivar ought to organize a large-scale internal debate 
about the principles involved. 

Finally, Gupta restates the BJP's general commitments: "The party cannot afford to lose its cutting 
edge, its ideological commitment to uncompromising nationalism, be it cultural or economic — 
Hindutva and Swadeshi have to remain the BJP's twin oars with the helmsman (at present Mr. 
Advani) setting the course towards the re-emergence of India as a modern, re -invigorated nation 
that can claim justifiable pride in its self-identity and self-reliance. This would mean a continuing 
campaign on issues like Article 370, Ayodhya, uniform civil code, illegal immigration, social 
harmony, national security, self-reliance, social reform and cultural re-awakening. (...) Above all, the 
BJP must prepare for power so that it is able to ensure India's transition from suppressed 
nationhood to a proud nation aware of its true identity with absolute ease; so that it is able to 
deliver on its promise of 'good governance', which is not a 'colourless slogan', as Mr. Elst argues, 
but as the party manifesto says, the sum total of 'the four concepts of Suraksha, Shuchita, Swadeshi 
and Samrasata'."[4] 

In most democratic countries, "good governance" would certainly be a colourless slogan, but Mr. 
Gupta has a point: in India most parties do not dare to make this totally empty promise because 
their actual record would make it sound laughable. It reflects well on the BJP that it still dares to 
mention the very term "good governance", even though its record is not spotless either. 
Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the BJP has eagerly adopted these innocuous secular slogans 
because the label of "Hindu fundamentalists" etc. became too heavy to bear. While good 

governance is certainly a commendable campaign promise, its eloquence lies not only in its own 
contents but also in what it wants to deflect attention away from. 

And that brings us to a final point in Kanchan Gupta's reply: "These are not issues that ensure good 
'public relations', something which seems to figure high on Mr. Elst's list of priorities, but these are 
issues which set apart the BJP from other political parties, giving it an identity which others secredy 
aspire for but are scared to admit in public." Reference is to my own criticism of the BJP's awfully 
poor public relations during its Ayodhya campaign. My point was and is precisely that, contrary to 
Kanchan Gupta's bold claims, the BJP is not bravely insensitive to the abuse it receives from 
opinion-makers including the secularist establishment and its parrots, the international media. On 
the contrary, the BJP's political line is determined to a considerable extent by what its enemies say 
about it. When it comes to those points which give the BJP its distinct identity in India's party 
landscape, the BJP is not a proud and defiant champion of a radical alternative to the rotten 
establishment, but a sycophantic beggar trying to curry favour with the same establishment. When 
articulating its "cultural nationalism", the BJP systematically tries to define this as essentially the 
same thing as the prevalent secularism minus a few excesses. Even when pretending to formulate an 
alternative, the BJP is still paying implicit tribute to the Nehruvian system. Even when pretending to 
undo some of the damage to Hindu temples wrought by Islam, the BJP whitewashes and praises 
Islam. [5] That the BJP stoops to this "crawling in the dust before its enemies" (I stand by that 
description, Mr. Gupta) is largely the effect of its fright before a bullying crowd of opinion -makers. 
The BJP consists of very ordinary people (which is alright, certainly preferable to the spoilt children 
who make up the secularist establishment) and they don't like being in the dock for decades on end. 
It is for this reason, the BJP's demonstrable concern about public opinion, that the BJP in its turn 
has no serious option but to influence public opinion in its own favour. 

Public opinion consists of two sections. On the one hand you have the Marxist and "secular 
fundamentalist" shepherd-dogs whose bullying rhetoric frightens many people into compliance with 
their anti-Hindu line. On the other, you have the docile herd of fearful conformists and ignorant 
outsiders. The weight which the former section carries largely depends on the extent to which the 
latter follows its dictates. In this situation, any serious movement would work overtime to detach 
the herd from the bullies, the camp-followers from the hard core, for this would substantially alter 
the ideological power equation determining the political possibilities before the BJP. Call it "public 
relations" or anything you want, but it is imperative that Hindu activists effectively counter the 
disinformation which cuts them off from a part of their natural Hindu constituency and of their 
natural allies in the outside world. 

To sum up, I still think that a BJP Government at the centre may be a healthy development for 
India, and I still believe that the RSS can be an important instrument for the self-renewal of Hindu 
society. However, they need first of all to think of themselves as just that — instruments in the 
service of Hindu civilization. They need to evaluate seriously what ends their policies have actually 
been serving, and to improve their performance. The next word should come from them, and it 
should not be just a defensive brief like Kanchan Gupta's newspaper article, but a comprehensive 
evaluation of their achievements in terms of their goals. 

[1] A. A. Engineer: "Communalism and Communal Violence, 1996", Economic and Political 
Weekly, 15 Feb. 1997, p.323-326. Of course, Engineer forgets to note the murders of Hindutva 
activists in his rather reassuring survey of communal violence in 1996. 

[2] On the other hand, I am aware that history provides many examples of people who surprised 
everyone with their unexpected courage and skill when provoked by a crisis. Quite possibly, some 
individuals in a future BJP Government would do likewise and thereby shake the Hindutva 
movement out of its slumber and confusion. 

[3] BJS Party Documents 1951-1972, vol.l, p.57-58. 

[4] Suraksha = security, Shuchita = impeccability, Swadeshi = economic self-reliance, Samrasata = 

[5] E.g., in his post-Demolition speech in the Lok Sabha, A.B. Vajpayee declared that he did "not 
recognize Aurangzeb as a representative of Islam", meaning that Islam is alright but extraneous 
forces put Aurangzeb on an un-Islamic course of persecution and temple destruction. The RSS 
publishing-house Suruchi Prakashan has published his speech in a booklet titled, with unintended 
irony, Hindus Betrayed.